Learn More About Coffee... a coffee book review

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"Some people drink coffee to wake up, others wake up to drink coffee" - Nicholas Flatoff

If you're part of the group that wakes up to drink coffee, chances are coffee is more of a passion then an addiction.  So how do you fuel that passion you ask... with knowledge!

In this article we've reviewed some of our favorite coffee books of all time and show you where to get your hands on each!  The titles of each book can be clicked and Amazon links are found at the bottom of this page!

Coffee Overview Books:

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

This is one of my all-time favorite coffee books!  This book serves to explore the history of Specialty Coffee.  First wave, second wave, third wave - it's all laid out and meticulously explained. It's a fairly long book at 480 pages, but the content is easy to digest and it's written in an interesting and thought provoking manner.  You won't learn how to brew or roast coffee in the book, but you will however come to understand a lot about the coffee industry and how we have arrived at the point we are at today. This book has a way of inspiring readers to a deeper understanding of the workings or our industry and can provide a great knowledge base for diving into other more specific topics of study in coffee.  


The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing -- Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed 

One of my most highly recommended books, this work features a really engaging format with plenty of incredible photos and infographics.  This book focuses on understanding the different parts of the world where coffee is grown and what we can expect from each of these different areas.  In this geographically organized work, readers can really start to gain a solid understanding of a crucial element of Specialty Coffee, regional taste differences.  Furthermore, this book does a great job of highlighting enough information and providing enough photographical content that readers can really start to visualize where they're coffee is coming from and start to inadvertently understand the crucial fact that coffee is human.  Specialty Coffee is really all about connecting farmers to consumers and this book can be foundational in starting someone down this wave length of thinking.



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

This book takes a more of a philosophical look at coffee.  It explores the interesting drive that is deep down within us coffee people which keeps us seeking the most exciting and quality coffee experiences.  Michaele Weissman lays out an infectious narrative of coffee geekery in this light, almost meditative exploratory book.  

How-to Coffee Books:

How to Make Coffee: The Science Behind the Bean

As the name suggests... you will learn how to make coffee.  No really, this is a phenomenal, perfectly laid out book that can take you from knowing nothing to making some of the best cups of coffee you've ever had at home.  It goes into just the right amount of science to help you understand the complex things that happen when you pour water through coffee, but doesn't go so deep as to boring the face off of new coffee hobbyist just getting into coffee.  Also, I will say this book may also prove to be a handy guide for seasoned professionals - take note on how the author goes about explaining coffee brewing concepts in an amazingly approachable way and replicate that same tone and perspective when teaching customers or new barista trainees.  I know of many cafes that have all new employees go through this book as a barista quick start guide to help trainees quickly learn and be able to convey the basics of brewing coffee.  In all, this book contains a wide berth of information with just the right amount of depth to engage new coffee folk and get the pendulum swinging in the right direction for anyone seeking to build a solid base of coffee brewing knowledge.  


The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea

 Now a true classic, this book from the Scott Rao collection really has set the industry standard for coffee brewing in the cafe setting.  You can expect a very scientific feel as you read along with many numbers and graphs, all in good taste and only implemented to deepen understanding.  If you're a numbers person or seek to learn the most objective and widely accepted stances on coffee brewing available, this book is for you.  I have to say this book is mostly geared towards industry professionals or very dedicated home enthusiasts. It's a must have for any coffee shop owner or manager.


Everything but Espresso

Another classic from the Scott Rao collection - this book, like the one described above, takes a rather scientific approach to manual brewing.  Again, expect a lot of graphs and number forward explanations, but know that this book is instrumental in really starting to understand the science behind extraction!  


The Coffee Roaster's Companion

Rounding out the last of the "How-to Coffee Books" is another Scott Rao work.  The Coffee Roaster's Companion obviously focuses completely on roasting and has quickly become the authoritative compilation resource for coffee roasters.  This book is an all encompassing collection of material and beneficial to new as well as seasoned roasters.  Scott lays out a number of really solid theories and best practices in this book that can really be instrumental in unlocking new potential in your coffee roasting results.  That being said, this book has also sparked a little controversy in the roasting world as the ideas that Scott lays out are very hard lined rules and opinions that many other roasters find inaccurate.  In my experience I say that this book is a great starting place to understanding roasting theory but each roaster should build their own theories and practices based on experience and tasting.  But hey, if your want to learn about roasting, this $45 investment will get you well on your way!

The Crazy Nerdy Coffee Books:

 Coffee Agroecology: A New Approach to Understanding Agricultural Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Development

Well, with a title like that you can only imagine... yes, it's a pretty in depth research style book, but this is truly a really interesting topic.  Basically this book examines many of the codependent aspects of coffee farming, ecosystem management, and trading practices in the coffee industry.  Essentially, one could say this book is a complete study of the factors of sustainable practices in coffee.  It's not a "easy read" but is packed with incredible insight.  This book is best geared for industry professionals, specifically green coffee buyers seeking to understand all the nuanced elements that build the foundation for a sustainable market.   


Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production

If you've ever wanted to own and operate a coffee farm, this book is all you need!  For real, this is a research textbook-like resource produced by Nestle that essentially covers almost every aspect of coffee farming.  Yes, I'm sure there is WAY more to actually running a coffee farm operation that you could fit into a book - but this book really does share a lot and most people are surprised how rich with relevant information this book is.  Coming in at 1040 pages and $140, this book is not for the faint of heart but is really written for the dedicated professional.  This is a great book to bring with if you ever visit a coffee farm as it can explain most anything you may observe on the farm.  Expect to learn literally everything from micro-climate considerations, to planning out the layout of a farm, to plant species, to what fertilizer mix to use, to milling and export... this book covers it all.  This coffee book is by far one of the most rewarding I've read, however usually my least recommended... no one really likes to spend money on textbooks!  


Espresso Coffee, Second Edition: The Science of Quality

At $108 and 400 pages, you're looking at the most in depth bible of espresso!  This Book is not for the casual coffee reader but geared much more towards the very curious coffee professional or home hobbyist.  Prepare for a very analytical and scientific style, but a work that is so jammed packed full of incredible insight that you'll only come away being glad your gritted your teeth and read the whole thing!  

Other Related Books:

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

This book has nothing to do with coffee but is a must read for any shop owner or entrepreneur.  Danny Meyer is one of the most successful restauranteurs of our time and this is a personal memo style book in which he shares his secrets to success.  Also, the tone of his writing is almost as if he wrote this book to his younger self, providing key insights and wisdom only someone of his caliber could provide.  I guarantee once you start reading this you will have a hard tim putting it down.  Within this book you will also find a bunch of small tid-bits relating to customer service, from small ideas to over all philosophies, this book is littered with insights that are valuable to anyone in the service industry!  


How to Win Friends & Influence People

Again, this book has nothing specifically to do with coffee, but can be tangibly applied to just about anything in coffee.  From sales to service and everything in between, this classic will help you shift perspectives and become a more accomplished human being.  This is certainly more of a life/self-help book then anything else, but this book will help you think about achieving success in a new way and it has the potential to completely change your outlook!  


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