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The Coffee Bookshelf: Seven Must-Read Books About Coffee

May 27, 2014

 
    If there's anything we love almost as much as a great cup of coffee, it's a great book about coffee. We openly admit our obsession with the noble bean, its history, its chemistry, the politics and romance that surround it. It's led us down some interesting rabbit holes - translations of 16th-century medical texts and 17th-century advertising broadsides, for example. These books aren't quite that heavy. In fact, we deliberately picked a handful of our favorite light-reading coffee books that should be on the reading list for anyone who wants to learn about the many aspects of coffee.  

God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee

This book is a love story. I went out one day to do some reporting, and I fell in love with specialty coffee and the people--especially the people--who populate this lively realm. -Prologue, God in a Cup, Michaele WeissmanThis may be the most enjoyable book about coffee we've ever read. Journalist Michaele Weissman doesn't just impart information - she takes you with her on her journey of coffee discovery. And it's not just a metaphorical journey. Weissman signed on to travel with some of the best-known names in the specialty coffee industry to origin countries and behind the scenes of the specialty coffee industry. It's an engrossing, exciting book that reads more like a novel than an industry tell-all.

 
 

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting and Drinking

If people are confronted with a spigot, they don't get to have the experience of seeing how the coffee is constructed...I decided that, at Blue Bottle, we would grind your coffee, put it in a filter, and slowly pour water over it. We will construct your coffee. -James Freeman James and Caitlan Freeman own and run Blue Bottle Coffee, one of the biggest successes in the specialty coffee sphere. Their book is breezy and so easy to read that you don't even realize how much you've learned until you start spouting Freeman's philosophy of "constructing" coffee. The Freeman's share the secrets behind spectacular coffee, from selecting to roasting to brewing - and add in a selection of recipes created by Caitlan especially to go with their coffee. That makes this book a double-win in our book.
 
 
 
 

Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide to the Bean, the Beverage and the Industry

The cup...opened the way for a journey deeper and deeper into the complexities and pleasures, along with the disappointments, of coffee. If we can hook anyone into that journey with this book, we will be happy indeed. -Robert W. Thurston When the editors claim this book is comprehensive, they're understating the facts. The editors -- all of them long-time professionals in the coffee industry -- present chapters written by a diverse cross-section of people working in the coffee industry, from pickers and producers to baristas, from roasters to speculators. It's a wide-ranging book that will take you from the forest floors to the trading floors in a journey that will leave you with a deeper understanding of the place coffee occupies in the world. If you're interested in the history, the geography, the chemistry and the impact of coffee on the Earth and its people, this is the book you want to read.
 
 

Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying, Fifth Ed.

Coffee is a sensual experience as well as a wake-up pill, and if it is drunk at all, it should be drunk well and deliberately, rather than swilled half cold out of Styrofoam cups while we work.-Kenneth Davids Now in its 5th edition, Kenneth Davids' Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying set the standard for all the books that have been written about coffee since its first appearance in the mid-1970s. Davids has an impressive reputation as a coffee guru, and is a go-to expert for the press. There's a lot of good, basic, general information here about coffee, the coffee industry and the place of coffee in the world.
 
 
 

The Art and Craft of Coffee: An Enthusiast's Guide to Selection, Roasting and Brewing Exquisite Coffee

It is possible to taste the volcanic lava from Sumatra and to smell the spice fields of India. I know of no better way to travel the world than through a passion for coffee. -Kevin Sinnott Kevin Sinnott may be the best-known non-professional in the specialty coffee world. His book, The Art and Craft of Coffee, is a no-nonsense guide to selecting, buying, storing and brewing coffee. No-nonsense doesn't mean dry or dull, though. His Sinnott's conversational style is easy to read, easy to follow and easy to remember. The book is well-organized, making it a great reference for any coffee enthusiast, from rank beginner to expert.
 

The Coffeeist Manifesto: No More Bad Coffee!

Coffee is a drink of the people and should always be honored as such. This book seeks to demystify coffee...while recognizing that coffee does indeed hold a special place in the history of modern civilization. -Steven D. Ward If you think there's too much snobbery in the specialty coffee world (and we'd disagree with you, but you're entitled to your opinion!) The Coffeeist Manifesto is the book for you. Ward's premise is that coffee is a drink for the people and the idea that it's "hard" to make good coffee is ridiculous. His book doesn't cover new ground, but it does present basic information about brewing coffee, the best coffee equipment and most anything else you need to know to brew excellent coffee for yourself at home.

Joe: The Coffee Book

...the start of the 21st century brought a new mission to the coffee market. Fair Trade commerce led to Direct Trade; the skill of a trained barista became a marketable quality, and...the demand for the perfect cup of coffee grew faster than we could have imagined. -Jonathan RubinsteinSiblings Jonathan and Gabrielle Rubinstein are the founders and proprietors of iconic NYC coffee chain, joe. Like many other third-wave coffee mavens, the Rubinsteins plunged into the specialty coffee world with almost no training or experience, learning the industry by feel and through the mentoring of those with more experience. Joe: The Coffee Book is short and almost breezy, the kind of book you'll tuck away in an afternoon. The authors cover the basics of growing and processing, roasting, tasting and brewing fine coffee, but what makes this book a standout is the chapter on the coffee community. While others mention it in passing, no one else (aside from Michaele Weissman in God in a Cup) bring the community so vitally, wonderfully alive.
We're working on assembling an ongoing Coffee Bookshelf, complete with capsule reviews. We'd love your feedback and suggestions on books about coffee that you particularly enjoy.
 



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