The best coffee books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about coffee and why they recommend each book.

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Coffee

By Jonathan Morris,

Book cover of Coffee: A Global History

Jonathan, with whom I worked on an earlier book on coffee with authors from around the world, presents the history of coffee in a wonderfully readable way. His book is filled with charming and informative photos and graphics. A professor at the University of Hertfordshire and a truly nice guy, Jonathan is an expert above all on Italian coffee. He is in demand, particularly for talks on coffee’s past and present in Europe.

Coffee

By Jonathan Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Coffee as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coffee is a global beverage: it is grown commercially on four continents, and consumed enthusiastically in all seven. There is even an Italian espresso machine on the International Space Station. Coffee's journey has taken it from the forests of Ethiopia to the fincas of Latin America, from Ottoman coffee houses to `Third Wave' cafes, and from the simple coffee pot to the capsule machine. In Coffee: A Global History, Jonathan Morris explains how the world acquired a taste for coffee, yet why coffee tastes so different throughout the world.

Morris discusses who drank coffee, as well as why and where,…

Who am I?

I have found coffee, or in fact just about any aspect of it, from pour-over to espresso, to be endlessly challenging and rewarding. My first visit to coffee farms was in 2004, to Ethiopia and Kenya. Since then I’ve been to dozens of farms in nine or ten countries. There is something about coffee people; they are wondrously generous about sharing their expertise, if they think you care and if you know the right questions to ask. Before going deeply into coffee, I was a professor of history, and I've continued to publish on topics as diverse as Stalin, the witch hunts in Europe and North America, and the body in the Anglosphere, 1880-1920.


I wrote...

Coffee: From Bean to Barista

By Robert W. Thurston,

Book cover of Coffee: From Bean to Barista

What is my book about?

Taking the story of coffee from the ground up, the book covers cultivation, processing, roasting, brewing, the spread of coffee around the world, health and drinking coffee (good news!), and climate change. I cover the history of coffee as it spread from Ethiopia, including the social benefits and disruption that it helped facilitate. New research is featured on the plants, their main pests, and questions about how much and what kind of shade is best for the trees. Certification programs like Fair Trade get their share of praise and criticism, as does organic coffee farming. For the book, I draw on my own experience as a roaster and retailer as well as on my many visits to coffee farms around the world.

The Devil's Cup

By Stewart Lee Allen,

Book cover of The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee

This is the book that started my obsession with coffee. It is really a travel book, using the spread of coffee from Ethiopia through to the rest of the world as its guide. It’s a fun read, and fascinating to see the way coffee was become entwined into so many different cultures in many different ways.

The Devil's Cup

By Stewart Lee Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil's Cup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this captivating book, Stewart Lee Allen treks three-quarters of the way around the world on a caffeinated quest to answer these profound questions: Did the advent of coffee give birth to an enlightened western civilization? Is coffee, indeed, the substance that drives history? From the cliffhanging villages of Southern Yemen, where coffee beans were first cultivated eight hundred years ago, to a cavernous coffeehouse in Calcutta, the drinking spot for two of India’s three Nobel Prize winners ... from Parisian salons and cafés where the French Revolution was born, to the roadside diners and chain restaurants of the good…

Who am I?

I’ve been working in coffee for nearly 20 years, and teaching people about coffee for most of that. I love sharing how interesting, diverse, and fun the world of coffee is, and I want people to enjoy and value the coffee they drink a little more. It is a passion and a career that’s taken me around the world, and continues to reinforce the idea that just a little effort or interest in your morning coffee has surprisingly large rewards. The books on this list inspired my own passion for coffee and I hope they do the same for you.


I wrote...

How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

By James Hoffmann,

Book cover of How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

What is my book about?

More and more people are brewing coffee at home, and this book covers everything you need to know to make that coffee better. The goal is to understand the most important aspects of brewing, so it can be simpler and easier rather than more complicated.

Covering everything from how to buy coffee, how to better taste coffee, right through how to brew it in a wide array of different brewers, this is a concise but complete book that will make your mornings that bit more delightful.

Book cover of The Physics of Filter Coffee

Coffee preparation is often accused of being a bit nerdy, but what if you lean into that? This book is a deep exploration of coffee brewing from a passionate astrophysicist. With a rigorous approach to coffee you can learn new and surprising things, and this book is having rippling effects on coffee shops and coffee lovers worldwide.

The Physics of Filter Coffee

By Jonathan Gagne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Physics of Filter Coffee by astrophysicist Jonathan Gagné is perhaps the most significant book ever written on the science of coffee brewing. In the book Jonathan discusses the physics of percolation, extraction, and grinding, as well as water chemistry. He takes the reader down such rabbit holes as pouring-kettle design, optimizing turbulence while pouring, the impact of fines on percolation, the physics of paper filters, and the geometry of various brewers. He also presents some original ideas about coffee brewing and backs it all up with reams of facts and data. The most wonderful thing about The Physics of…

Who am I?

I’ve been working in coffee for nearly 20 years, and teaching people about coffee for most of that. I love sharing how interesting, diverse, and fun the world of coffee is, and I want people to enjoy and value the coffee they drink a little more. It is a passion and a career that’s taken me around the world, and continues to reinforce the idea that just a little effort or interest in your morning coffee has surprisingly large rewards. The books on this list inspired my own passion for coffee and I hope they do the same for you.


I wrote...

How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

By James Hoffmann,

Book cover of How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

What is my book about?

More and more people are brewing coffee at home, and this book covers everything you need to know to make that coffee better. The goal is to understand the most important aspects of brewing, so it can be simpler and easier rather than more complicated.

Covering everything from how to buy coffee, how to better taste coffee, right through how to brew it in a wide array of different brewers, this is a concise but complete book that will make your mornings that bit more delightful.

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

It is hard to pick just one of Scott Rao’s books as they have become the industry standard. If you want to learn more about how the best cafes approach coffee brewing, to steal the best bits for your home brewing, then this is a really great place to start.

The Professional Barista's Handbook

By Scott Rao,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Professional Barista's Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE AUTHOR: When I began in the coffee business fourteen years ago, I read every book I could find about coffee. After reading all of those books, however, I felt as if I hadn’t learned much about how to make great coffee. My coffee library was chock-full of colorful descriptions of brewing styles, growing regions, and recipes, with a few almost-unreadable scientific books mixed in. I would have traded in all of those books for one serious, practical book with relevant information about making great coffee in a café. Fourteen years later, I still haven’t found that book. I…

Who am I?

I’ve been working in coffee for nearly 20 years, and teaching people about coffee for most of that. I love sharing how interesting, diverse, and fun the world of coffee is, and I want people to enjoy and value the coffee they drink a little more. It is a passion and a career that’s taken me around the world, and continues to reinforce the idea that just a little effort or interest in your morning coffee has surprisingly large rewards. The books on this list inspired my own passion for coffee and I hope they do the same for you.


I wrote...

How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

By James Hoffmann,

Book cover of How To Make The Best Coffee At Home

What is my book about?

More and more people are brewing coffee at home, and this book covers everything you need to know to make that coffee better. The goal is to understand the most important aspects of brewing, so it can be simpler and easier rather than more complicated.

Covering everything from how to buy coffee, how to better taste coffee, right through how to brew it in a wide array of different brewers, this is a concise but complete book that will make your mornings that bit more delightful.

Sweetness and Power

By Sidney W. Mintz,

Book cover of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History

Mintz’s book is about sugar, but it is still a key work in the history of coffee. It served as one of the major inspirations for my own study of the reception of coffee in early modern Britain. Sugar was a key ingredient in coffee by the later seventeenth century and would become a staple in the hot drinks consumed by the English working class. Mintz shows us how this symbiotic relationship between sugar and coffee developed, and he places the construction of an Atlantic slave system and the industrial revolution at the heart of his story. This is a classic work of both anthropology and history; it inspired a whole new way of thinking about the Atlantic world and the history of consumption at a time when both of those fields were still newborn. 

Sweetness and Power

By Sidney W. Mintz,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sweetness and Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating persuasive history of how sugar has shaped the world, from European colonies to our modern diets

In this eye-opening study, Sidney Mintz shows how Europeans and Americans transformed sugar from a rare foreign luxury to a commonplace necessity of modern life, and how it changed the history of capitalism and industry. He discusses the production and consumption of sugar, and reveals how closely interwoven are sugar's origins as a "slave" crop grown in Europe's tropical colonies with is use first as an extravagant luxury for the aristocracy, then as a staple of the diet of the new industrial…

Who am I?

I went to college in Portland, Oregon when the Pacific northwest’s coffee boom was just getting started. My love of coffee turned academic as I began to research and write what would turn out to be a prize-winning book on the early history of coffee and coffeehouses in Great Britain: The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse (2005). I’ve continued to publish articles on coffee history and the history of sociability ever since, and I regularly teach a research seminar on the history of coffee at McGill University. Now I serve as president of the board of directors for an international research group on the history of sociability.


I wrote...

The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse

By Brian Cowan,

Book cover of The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse

What is my book about?

What induced the British to adopt foreign coffee-drinking customs in the seventeenth century? Why did an entirely new social institution, the coffeehouse, emerge as the primary place for consumption of this new drink? Brian Cowan finds the answers to these questions in the particularly British combination of curiosity, commerce, and civil society. Cowan provides the definitive account of the origins of coffee drinking and coffeehouse society, and in so doing he reshapes our understanding of the early modern commercial and consumer revolutions in Britain.

The Feast of Love

By Charles Baxter,

Book cover of The Feast of Love

I confess that almost everything Baxter has written is too intellectually frigid for me. But this novel is one of my favorites. At times sweet, at times intense, it is a meditation on the ways we love, and the various stages of love based on our ages and the duration of our relationships. Baxter explores romantic love, first love, old love, love for our children, and sexual obsession. Grief and hope figure prominently. At first, seemingly a series of short stories, the novel’s characters gradually drift into one another’s orbits and their stories become integrated. I love the author’s mastery of form while telling a brilliantly humane—and sexy—story about what it means to love.

The Feast of Love

By Charles Baxter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A superb novel that delicately unearths the myriad manifestations of extraordinary love between ordinary people. 'The Feast of Love' is just that - a sumptuous work of fiction about the thing that most distracts and delights us. Shortlisted for the National Book Award.

In this latter-day 'Midsummer Night's Dream', men and women speak of and desire their ideal mates; parents seek out their lost children; adult children try to come to terms with their own parents and, in some cases, find new ones.

In vignettes both comic and sexy, the owner of a coffee shop recalls the day his first…


Who am I?

I’m a creative director in Vermont with a few favorite things: laughter, standard poodles, and happy endings—in life and in fiction. Romance fiction abounds with young heroines and happy endings. But I prefer reading about mature women like myself, women who have experienced their share of disappointments yet face life’s challenges with courage and humor. I like the elements of both genres in one juicy book. After much-frustrated searching, I gave up and wrote the story I wanted to read. My wise, middle-aged heroine still has lots to learn about grief and joy, and learns many of those lessons with men—in bed.


I wrote...

Willing: A Contemporary Romance

By Leslie Morris Noyes,

Book cover of Willing: A Contemporary Romance

What is my book about?

Liz Silver has lost her creative spark. Her career success is tied to the enthusiasm she brings to her wedding photography, but losing that spark threatens her livelihood. What gives? Her life is perfect, isn’t it? She has a delightful daughter, supportive friends, and glorious Vermont to call home. Armed with the wisdom and humor her Jewish ancestors stitched into her DNA, Liz begins looking for solutions. The men she casually takes to bed along the way force her to consider whether her vow to leave love behind is the problem. Traveling a road potholed with old grief, Liz discovers a new way of seeing herself, a career reboot, and, just maybe, the partner of her dreams—if the potholes don’t get her first. 

Denver Then and Now

By Joshua Dinar,

Book cover of Denver Then and Now

I like reading about Denver's history, but I love seeing pictures bring that history to life. This book shows old pictures of buildings and compares them with the present-day look. In some cases, beautiful old buildings no longer exist or have been drastically altered. This is a great coffee table book. 

Denver Then and Now

By Joshua Dinar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Denver Then and Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrating America's favorite cityscapes, this series combines historic interest and contemporary beauty. Then and Now features fascinating archival photographs contrasted with specially commissioned, full-color images of the same scene today. A visual lesson in the historic changes of our greatest urban landscapes.

Who am I?

A few years ago, I began rediscovering my hometown of Denver as I walked neighborhoods and revisited landmarks of the city that I had not seen since I was a kid. Essential Denver highlights the fabulous things the city offers from my perspective as a Denver native. I encourage readers to explore Denver, plan outings, and become involved in the community. I hope this Denver book list sparks more interest in landmarks, treasures, and the history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital. 


I wrote...

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

By Lisa J. Shultz,

Book cover of Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

What is my book about?

Perfect for newcomers and tourists to learn about the city. Great for those born in Denver and long-standing residents to rediscover and appreciate the rich history of the city. 

Written by a Denver native to be different from the usual guidebook. The author shares her unique view of her hometown to inspire exploration and appreciation of Denver's treasures. If you are looking for the standard template of most travel guides, this isn't it. If you are looking for fun facts, great lists, and plenty of ideas to plan your next outing, this book is a good choice. 2021 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards: First Place Winner in Travel/Outdoors.

Layla

By Sadie King,

Book cover of Layla: A Curvy Girl Romance

The Curvy Girl Can series are short reads. Like my series, they can be read in any order and all have a guaranteed happily-ever-after. They’re a great choice to read on a lunch break, but they’re also as binge-able as a box of chocolates (nom nom nom). This first book is a great place to start but honestly, you can dive in anywhere. Layla is one of my favorites because I love the idea of the heroine’s reading cafe: who wouldn’t want a cozy place with beanbags, great coffee, and freshly-baked cookies to curl up with a book? Kane makes for a great flirty, rough hero and his chemistry with Layla will have you hooked.

Layla

By Sadie King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Are you looking for a HOT, OTT, Super FUN read? You will not go wrong with this book!"

Layla

There’s a new shop opening next door, and I can’t stop thinking about the bearded, inked owner with the rough hands. One look and my lady cookie melts.
But his noisy renovation work is scaring off my clientele. 

Can I keep my customers, my heart, and my v-card? Or will I give it all up for one night with Kane? 



Kane 

I’ve got two weeks to renovate my new shop and get my business out of the red or it’s going…

Who am I?

I’m the USA Today bestselling author of nineteen romances including the He Wanted Me Pregnant! series of short, steamy, standalone reads, several of which feature curvy heroines. I believe there’s room in romance for heroes and heroines of all shapes and sizes and I love to see curvy girls find their one-and-only: someone who loves them exactly the way they are. I like my curvy heroines to be smart, witty, and have depth and I like my romances to be just the right mix of squee-inducing instalove and steamy scenes.


I wrote...

The Curvy Vet and the Billionaire Cowboy

By Victoria Wessex,

Book cover of The Curvy Vet and the Billionaire Cowboy

What is my book about?

A short, steamy, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy to read in your lunch break. Curvy veterinarian scientist Amanda has never been comfortable with her body. She hides away in her lab in Atlanta, burying herself in her work…until a call from a stranger drags her out of the city and into the wilderness.

Former oil man Russ Tyler has made his billions and bought himself a stud farm in Wyoming. He needs Amanda to treat a feral horse high in the mountains…but that means persuading the timid beauty to trek there with him on horseback. Amanda’s used to soy lattes, not camping out under the stars with a gorgeous, muscled cowboy. Can Russ convince her that he loves her curves…and wants her to have his children?

Legends & Lattes

By Travis Baldree,

Book cover of Legends & Lattes

I’m a regular D&D player (a dwarf rogue who always fails her stealth checks, to be specific) and this gentle story about an orc barbarian hanging up her sword to open a coffee shop felt like the origin story of a beloved NPC. 

Viv is a wonderful character, an adult woman with scars, baggage, and filled with all the fear and hope of trying something new. This may be a fantasy story, but it perfectly portrays the terrifying prospects of changing careers, making new friends, and finding love in your thirties. And my god, will it make you want a cup of coffee and a pastry.

Legends & Lattes

By Travis Baldree,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Legends & Lattes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

High fantasy, low stakes - with a double-shot of coffee.

After decades of adventuring, Viv the orc barbarian is finally hanging up her sword for good. Now she sets her sights on a new dream - for she plans to open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. Even though no one there knows what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the past behind her, she can't go it alone. And help might arrive from unexpected quarters. Yet old rivals and new stand in the way of success. And Thune's shady underbelly could make it all…


Who am I?

I’ve been in love with cozy, low-stakes fantasy ever since my mother first handed me a copy of The Hobbit—so for most of my life. I love the focus on place and small comforts, the humble (and often unwilling!) heroes, the slower pace that builds to an emotional crescendo (as well as an action-packed one!), and the way these stories always leave me feeling warm, like I’ve just shared a coffee with a loved one. It should come as no surprise, then, that these are the kinds of stories I love writing best.  


I wrote...

The Misadventures of an Amateur Naturalist

By Ceinwen Langley,

Book cover of The Misadventures of an Amateur Naturalist

What is my book about?

The Misadventures of an Amateur Naturalist is a cozy, coming of age historical fantasy inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast… with a sapphic twist. 

Celeste, a beautiful but disinterested socialite, is determined to travel to the 1867 Paris World Fair to seek an apprenticeship as a naturalist. Nothing can stop her – not the scientific community’s exclusion of women, not her family’s sudden descent into poverty, and certainly not her unexpected engagement. Nothing, that is, except a blizzard, a terrible sense of direction, and the eight-foot-tall mammalian predator following her through the wilds… 

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

By Deborah Rodriguez,

Book cover of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

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.  

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

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?

THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING NOVEL

'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…


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.

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