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Coffee Resolution Series #5: Learn More About Coffee

January 27, 2014

 
  We're wrapping up our Coffee Resolution Series with a look at the many other fascinating aspects of the coffee world and ways that you can educate more than just your palate. Coffee holds a unique place in the world. It is one of the most-traded commodities in the world markets, second only to oil. Commerce in the noble bean is the economic mainstay of dozens of countries and millions of families. Coffee trade was one of the banner industries in the Fair Trade movement and is still the most recognized of the Fair Trade products around the world. Throughout history, coffee houses have served as gathering places for the leaders of thought, industry and revolution. Lloyds of London -- and the modern insurance industry -- and the New York Stock Exchange were both born in coffee houses, as were numerous revolutions. It's not for nothing that many governments -- and even the Catholic Church -- have banned coffee and coffee houses at various points in history. These are just a few of the many places you can learn more about where coffee comes from, how it affects the world -- and how to enjoy it even more.  

Our Reading Room

  Start with our Reading Room, where we've gathered information of all sorts about your favorite indulgence. You can learn about the history of coffee, it journey from farm to table and coffee botany. We frequently add new information, including news of the coffee industry and news about coffee and your health.  

 

Uncommon GroundsBooks About Coffee

  Some of our favorite reads star coffee in all of its various guises. These are some of our favorites.   You've probably heard about the Ethiopian goatherder and his dancing goats, but you'll never find it told in a more entertaining way than in "Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World". Originally published in 1999, the book was updated in 2010 to reflect the influences of third wave coffee roasters and expanding research into the nature of coffee. Mark Prendergrast focuses on the influence of coffee in the Americas, but it's an entertaining read with a lot of information, making it one of our favorites.   For a lighter read with a travelogue feel and a side-serving of the politics of coffee and a worldwide focus, we highly recommend "The Devil's Cup: History of the World According to Coffee," a highly entertaining read by chef and travel enthusiast Stewart Lee Allen, who journals his trek throughout the world in search of the origins and history of coffee from seed to cup.   Interested in what makes the world of specialty coffee tick? Then you'll love "God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee," in which journalist Michaele Weissman takes a deep dive into the modern-day world of specialty coffee. It includes interviews with shining luminaries in the coffee industry as well as accounts of Weissman's travels to coffee-growing nations. You'll come away with a greater understanding of how the coffee you enjoy is grown, sourced, imported and marketed.  

 

Your Local Roaster

  We know there's a persistent myth out there about coffee snobbery, but we're seeing a lot more coffee roasters who value accessibility above the snob appeal of knowing more about coffee than you do. Many independent roasters and cafes make it part of their mission to share what they know about making and sourcing great coffee. Most major cities have at least one local roaster or coffee shop that offers classes and coffee cupping events open to the public. And of course, you don't have to wait for a formal class. Many baristas are unabashed coffee enthusiasts who will happily expound for hours on their favorite subject when given a chance. Ask about their favorite coffees, what they like and what makes an extraordinary cup of java. Just make sure you pick an unbusy time.  

 

Coffee Roast MagazineMagazines

  While most coffee periodicals are aimed at professionals in the coffee industry, many of them feature articles that are of general interest to people who simply love coffee. Some of the more popular (and accessible) trade journals include Roast magazine, Fresh Cup magazine and Barista Magazine.  

 

Online Forums

  Looking for a more in-depth conversation about coffee? There are any number of online discussion groups and forums devoted to discussing everything from the latest equipment to the coffee economy. Some of the best known include Coffee Geek and Home-Barista.com. Both sites offer a wealth of information, as well as knowledgeable professionals and enthusiasts who are always happy to answer questions and get into the nitty gritty of buying, roasting and making exceptional coffee.  

 

Professional Organizations

  The Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Roasters Guild of America are professional membership organizations aimed at professionals in the coffee industry, but both also provide education and events that are sometimes open to the pubic. If you're really serious about your coffee education, both organizations have certification programs and publish the standards to become certified in the industry.  

 

Experience the World

  Want to really get to know where your coffee comes from and how it gets to you? Coffee tourism is a growing trend. You'll find many travel agents that specialize in "coffee tours" that include visits to coffee growing nations. Some even give you a chance to get out there and pick coffee cherries or participate in the processing. A growing number of specialty roasters also arrange and run their own coffee tours for regular customers and coffee professionals.   Of course, you don't have to dig any deeper into the world of coffee than the bottom of your cup to appreciate an excellent cup, but we've found that the more we know, the more we truly enjoy the essential qualities that make coffee our favorite decadent indulgence.  



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