Professionals and enthusiasts alike will love this beautiful book by James Hoffmann. From overviews of the world’s most vibrant coffee-growing regions, to step-by-step brewing tutorials, the content is educational, thought-provoking, and substantial. I’ve already recommended this book to Barista Magazine readers countless times. — Sarah Allen, Editor Barista Magazine
A beautiful world guide to the brown bean.
‘Coffee has never been better than it is today. Producers know more than ever before about growing coffee and have access to more varieties and specialist growing techniques. Coffee roasters have never before been so likely to appreciate the importance of using freshly harvested coffee beans, and their understanding of the roasting process continues to improve. There are now more and more cafés selling really good coffee, using the best equipment and training their staff more effectively.’ I wrote these words in the introduction to the first edition of this book and they are still true today.
The world of great coffee has now truly gone mainstream. Every major city in the world has a plethora of cafés and coffee businesses, all run by passionate people working hard to share something exciting and delightful about coffee.
The coffee industry is enormous and has spread around the world. Today, 125 million people depend on coffee production for their livelihood, and coffee is consumed in every part of the globe. Coffee is entwined with both the economic and cultural histories of so many countries yet very few coffee drinkers have, in the past, scratched the surface to see what is underneath. Yet while many people may not have explored the world of coffee, a large portion of coffee drinkers are seeking out coffee that has been sourced carefully, sold traceably, and brewed with skill and care.
The coffee industry can be separated into two distinct areas: commodity and speciality. In this book we will primarily be dealing with speciality coffees. These are coffees that are defined by their quality and by how good they taste. Their origin is important, as this will often determine their flavour. Commodity coffee is the term used to describe coffees that
are not traded on their quality, but are considered simply to be ‘coffee’. Where they are grown doesn’t matter much, nor when they were harvested or how they were processed. Commodity coffee has defined the way that much of the world thinks about coffee – a generic product from somewhere tropical; an efficient, if bitter, way to get caffeine into the bloodstream and to clear the mind in the morning. The idea that one might drink coffee for pleasure, to delight in its complexity of flavour, still has relatively little penetration into global culture. There are many differences between the production and international trade of speciality coffees and commodity coffees as they are quite different products.
While this new world of coffee has boomed, it can still be a little intimidating. The language of coffee is foreign to most people, and many cafés are eager to share the story of the coffee they brew: its variety, its post-harvest processing or the people behind it. This can be overwhelming or frustrating. This book is written to make sense of that language, to give context to the stories of the cups of coffee you drink, to highlight what makes each farm or cooperative different and interesting.
At first, the sheer diversity of coffees and the huge volume of information available can be off-putting. However, once you start to understand a little about coffee, the diversity and information are the very things that make it so compelling. I hope this book serves you well, and brings a little more pleasure to every cup of coffee you drink.