The best books for wannabe coffee shop owners

Who am I?

I've been going by the handle ‘Dr. Coffee’ online for over a decade now. I really do have a PhD. in coffee! In 2007 I embarked on a doctorate and wrote my thesis on ideas of quality in the coffee industry. The inevitable question is then, ‘what do you do with a PhD in coffee?’ and my answer was to open coffee shops, first in the UK and then in Canada. In recent years, I've switched from owning a coffee shop with books in it to a bookshop with coffee in it, but it still manages to satisfy both passions. I firmly believe there is no better combination than hot coffee and good books.  

I wrote...

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Ten Years of Misadventures in Coffee

By Annabel Townsend,

Book cover of It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Ten Years of Misadventures in Coffee

What is my book about?

Many people dream of quitting the rat race and opening an idyllic cosy little coffee shop – after all, you love coffee, how hard can it be? 

The answer is Very Hard Indeed. Perfect for coffee lovers and budding entrepreneurs alike, this is the story of one coffee fanatic’s journey all over the world in an attempt to make it in the coffee industry, with all the messy bits left in.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Anyone Can Do It: Building Coffee Republic from Our Kitchen Table - 57 Real Life Laws on Entrepreneurship

Annabel Townsend Why did I love this book?

This is the book that started it all. I devoured it on my train commute to my university campus and it really did make opening a coffee shop seem straightforward! Coffee Republic was also a favourite cafe of mine when living in the UK. The Hashemi siblings recount their many pitfalls and mistakes made along the way so the reader can learn from them. The book is entertaining and authentic, it is easy to empathise with the authors, and it’s a simple read for anyone looking for first-hand experiences of starting a coffee business from scratch.  

By Sahar Hashemi, Bobby Hashemi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anyone Can Do It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thinking about starting the business of your dreams? So what's holding you back? Is it the fear of the unknown? If you are even contemplating starting a business of your own, perhaps you feel 'stuck' where you are now? But even being 'stuck' can seem better than facing that fear. That fear of the unknown, of leaving that comfort zone. Entrepreneurship is like an uncharted ocean. But ask yourself this question: Do you have the will and determination to leave dry land and navigate the choppy and sometimes daunting waters that lie before you?

If so, then Anyone Can Do…

Book cover of The Coffee Trader

Annabel Townsend Why did I love this book?

I am a fan of historical fiction anyway, but historical fiction and coffee? Brilliant! Liss’s book is set in 17th Century Amsterdam, which at the time was the centre of commerce in Europe, and in particular, one of the first ports to trade in the newly discovered coffee commodity. The main character, Miguel Lienzo is loosely based on Pasqua Rosé—the historical figure credited with opening the first coffee house in Oxford, England. There are diabolical schemes, adventure, plenty of double-crossing, flawed but likeable characters, and a very satisfying ending. To my knowledge, this is extremely historically accurate as well.

By David Liss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Coffee Trader as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amsterdam in the 1690s - a boom town with Europe's biggest stock exchange and traders who will stop at nothing to get even richer.

Lienzo, a Portugese Jew, stumbles across a new commodity - coffee - which, if he plays his cards right, will make him the richest man in Holland. But others stand in his way - rival traders who do all in their power to confuse the exchange and scupper his plans, his brother who is jealous of his financial wizardry and even his brother's beautiful wife who both tempts and spurns him in equal measure.

Book cover of Black Gold: The Dark History of Coffee

Annabel Townsend Why did I love this book?

Another book that served my research well, this one is both compelling, disturbing, and thought-provoking but still compulsively readable. It covers virtually every aspect of coffee’s 500-year history in Europe while also drawing on even older information from coffee-producing countries. The sections that captured my attention most were about the marketing of coffee—fascinating stuff! This book makes it possible to enjoy your favourite drink even more, all the while being aware of its history of exploitation and colonialism and often unsustainable means of production. It will make you seek out ethical, environmentally-friendly coffee without being preachy. Thoroughly worth reading. 

By Antony Wild,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Your morning flat-white helped shape the modern world

'Elegantly written, witty and so wide in scope, so rich in detail and so thought provoking' Joanna Blythman

It may seem like just a drink, but coffee's dark journey from the highlands of Ethiopia to the highstreets of every town in the country links alchemy and anthropology, poetry and politics, science and slavery. Plots have been hatched, blood spilled and governments toppled to keep your mug filled with fresh espresso.

In this thought-provoking expose, Antony Wild, coffee trader and historian, explores coffee's dismal colonial past, its perilous corporate present, and the environmental…

Book cover of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

Annabel Townsend Why did I love this book?

As I have discovered throughout my career, there are very few women who write about coffee and the coffee industry in general, and so I want to champion this one. Coffee itself is not the main focus of this delightful book, but the cafe—and its owners, staff, and customers—really take centre stage. Rodriguez’s descriptions of the little haven created by a simple coffee shop in Afghanistan’s war-torn capital are beautiful and captivating as well as a reminder of why spaces like this are so culturally important. This is a cosy book to curl up with and absorb the heroines’ adventures, secrets, and unusual friendships made along the way.  

By Deborah Rodriguez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'If you love The Kite Runner you'll love The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul' LOOK MAGAZINE

In a little coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth, five very different women come together . . .

SUNNY, the proud proprietor, who needs an ingenious plan - and fast - to keep her cafe and customers safe.

YAZMINA, a young pregnant woman stolen from her remote village and now abandoned on Kabul's violent streets.

CANDACE, a wealthy American who has finally left her husband for her Afghan lover, the enigmatic Wakil.

ISABEL, a determined…

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

Annabel Townsend Why did I love this book?

In the world of Speciality Coffee, James Hoffmann is the OG celebrity, and no list of coffee books is complete without this one. I met Hoffmann many years ago and he actually gave me barista training for my first Real coffee job. A year later, he won the World Barista Championship and founded Square Mile coffee roasters in London. The book contains absolutely everything a barista (or enthusiast) ever needs to know about coffee, complete with gorgeous pictures from around the world, and plenty of brewing tips too. Like me, Hoffmann is unashamedly geeky about coffee, and his humour, expertise, and passion for the little beans shine through this book. 

By James Hoffmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World Atlas of Coffee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The worldwide bestseller - 1/4 million copies sold

'Written by a World Barista Champion and co-founder of the great Square Mile roasters in London, this had a lot to live up to and it certainly does. Highly recommended for anyone into their coffee and interested in finding out more about how it's grown, processed and roasted.' (Amazon customer)

'Whether you are an industry professional, a home enthusiast or anything in between, I truly believe this is a MUST read.' (Amazon customer)

'Informative, well-written and well presented. Coffee table and reference book - a winner' (Amazon customer)

'Very impressive. It's amazing…

You might also like...

Through Any Window

By Deb Richardson-Moore,

Book cover of Through Any Window

Deb Richardson-Moore Author Of Murder, Forgotten

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Mystery aficionado Beach lover Mother Gardener Housing advocate

Deb's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Riley Masterson has moved to Greenbrier, SC, anxious to escape the chaos that has overwhelmed her life.

Questioned in a murder in Alabama, she has spent eighteen months under suspicion by a sheriff’s office, unable to make an arrest. But things in gentrifying Greenbrier are not as they seem. As Riley struggles to forge a new life, forces are gathering in the tension-plagued neighborhood where glitzy new homes rise alongside crumbling mill houses, and everyone, it seems, can peer into a neighbor’s window.

When murder explodes, someone unexpected is caught in the crossfire. Detectives are left to ponder: Are the deaths personal or the result of rich and poor living in such close proximity? And will Riley take the blame as someone so meticulously planned?

Through Any Window

By Deb Richardson-Moore,

What is this book about?

After being questioned in a murder investigation, Riley Masterson has spent eighteen months under suspicion by the sheriff’s office. Anxious to escape accusing eyes, she finally decides to leave Alabama and move to South Carolina.

But Greenbrier isn’t the stabilizing influence she hopes for, as her neighborhood is slowly being gentrified, with homeless people living in the shadows of mansions. As Riley struggles to forge a new life, forces are gathering in the tension-plagued neighborhood as glitzy new homes rise beside crumbling mill houses, and everyone is able and willing to peer into a neighbor’s window.

When a ghastly crime…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in coffee, the Netherlands, and France?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about coffee, the Netherlands, and France.

Coffee Explore 59 books about coffee
The Netherlands Explore 75 books about the Netherlands
France Explore 856 books about France