This is a guest post from Bob Batson: I write furniture descriptions for money. I live in Brighton. @AspiringMuppet.
If you need a morning coffee before you can reintegrate with society, or you spend at least two hours a week in your local cafe, here are six reads to add a bit more depth to your daily fix.
Colin Harmon is a demigod in the small batch coffee world. For the benefit of us commoners, the renowned barista published everything he knows that goes into running a own coffee shop (spoiler: bathrooms are super important). It’s a delightfully readable how-to guide filled with all manner of infographics and anecdotes that will make you realize how complicated your local coffeehouse really is.
Equal parts success story and industry analysis, A Good African Story documents the rise of a Ugandan coffee farm. What’s most surprising are the challenges and blockades that international coffee farmers have to navigate before the bean can even reach the roastery.
Don’t be put off by the German, the book is on this list for the pictures. While the Vienna Coffeehouses have a rich history, Kaffee In Wien is mostly photographs of those gorgeous, timeless cafes. Anecdotes about Wiener Kaffeekultur are in the margins for the German readers, yet the photographs tell the whole story.
If you’re looking for the science behind brewing, then this is the best volume out there. Hendon lays out the chemical processes that affect the flavour of your coffee, even assuring that no cup tastes exactly the same. Water For Coffee relates how natural environmental processes can affect your coffee’s infusion and what might disrupt those processes. He also discloses the best place to get a filter coffee based on the chemistry of the water (Scotland, of course).
It’s hard to tell to if this is a national history, an etiquette guide, or a recipe book. The ambiguity makes it all the more beguiling in this book about Turkey’s relationship to coffee. Kuzucu wants to revitalize the concept of “coffee as a peacemaker” that persists in Islamic history. That was likely the aim in publishing this book: to bring back the practice of drinking metaphors.
This is is the most academic book on the list; an in-depth examination of the economic factors and peculiarities of the coffee industry and how it directly affects the people who make it possible. The interviews with the struggling Mexican coffee farmers are a necessary read if you want to understand what makes the global trade possible. It’s a hopeful book despite it essentially being a documentary of exploitation. Jaffee concludes each chapter by imploring for radical change in the industry. What’s all the more inspiring is how possible change is.