The Romance of Coffee

Not a post about the slightly obscure books by William Ukers. Instead inspired by another book: Stewart Lee Allen’s “The Devil’s Cup”.

Everyone I know in the industry who has read this book has enjoyed it, but without fail people hate the last chapter. I think it is because it is in such sharp contrast to the rest of the book, and the rest of the book wraps itself wonderfully in the history and mythology of coffee. The last chapter is more about the horrid outside world that we in the industry would like to pretend isn’t there. It’s about coffee as caffeine, coffee as the unpleasant bitter drink that billions of people consume every day. There is no charming moment where we are taught the correct way to drink a melange, or the stories of the whirling dervishes told. Instead it reminds us that people don’t buy coffee because it tastes nice, and if you are in love with how good coffee can taste this can be a frustrating (if not slightly distressing!) thing.

I know this is something I’ve talked about before, but it is something that has been on my mind again today. And whilst I could wax lyrical about how most people who drink coffee don’t really like coffee, it is a functional not a pleasurable beverage, I will lay off that for today.

Instead I wonder what our modern mythology will be. When we look back in 200 years where will we find the romance and the great stories? Will it be microlots and auctions, or will they have carried on into the future? Will we invent a new machine, a new way to brew coffee – or have we already and we haven’t realised its impact yet. Who knows……

[tags]coffee, espresso, coffee history[/tags]

2 Comments The Romance of Coffee

  1. Gary Michael Smith

    From Bean to Brew—A History of Coffee and Coffeehouses

    The research in this book spans a decade and explores the growth and popularity of coffee from 800 A.D. to the present, from Yemen to the United States. Historic coffee-making practices and equipment are examined, as is the evolution of coffeehouses from 17th century Oxford, England to contemporary New Orleans, USA. From Bean to Brew investigates the creation and expansion of New Orleans as a major shipping port for coffee imports as well as the city’s progression to the status of the world’s largest bulk coffee handler. Also included are 16 illustrations by four artists as well as information on numerous professional associations and trade publications.


    Part 1 – A History Lesson

    The Role of Coffeehouses
    The History of Coffee
    The History of Coffeehouses
    Early Opposition
    Early Coffee Making
    Early Coffeehouses of New Orleans

    Part 2 – Roasting, Grinding, Brewing, and Storing

    Roasting for Freshness
    Grinding and Brewing

    Part 3 – Drinking and Enjoying

    Categories and Flavors
    Coffee Drinks
    The Coffee Market
    Proliferation of Coffeehouses
    Saturation Immunity?
    Tipping for Coffee
    Third Places

    For more information, see, Books.

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