Best books about coffee: 9 essential reads

Two-page spread in Everything But Espresso by Scott Rao
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If you love your cup of joe, you probably also love learning more about how to brew the smoothest, most flavorful, or most robust cup of coffee around. That’s why we want to point you toward some of the best books about coffee.

You likely already know that one cup of coffee isn’t like all of the others. With each different bean, there are a variety of flavors you can create. The precise grinding and brewing methods, and even the location and growing conditions of the beans, can alter the flavor of your morning cup. 

If you enjoy drinking brew and learning more about your favorite beverage, the authors below have written books to engage those who appreciate great coffee and answer their most burning questions. These are essential reading for true coffee lovers.

9 Best Books About Coffee

The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing -- Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed
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People who love coffee and want to get more general knowledge about the different types of beans and brews around the world should check out The World Atlas of Coffee. It’s great for people who are just starting to learn about coffee and want to get a broad overview. It also covers how beans are processed, from harvest to roasting. This book introduces readers to a variety of brewing methods, with photographs and illustrations to show those who are new to serious coffee brewing about all these methods.

Hoffman makes the joys of coffee accessible to consumers. He’s been working on similar projects in the coffee industry for about a decade and a half. He has won several awards for his barista skills, including the consecutive U.K. Barista Championships in 2006 and 2007. He also won the World Barista Championship in 2007. Hoffman founded Square Mile Coffee Roasters, a coffee roasting and distribution company in north London.

All about Coffee (Second Edition)
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If you’re looking for a book that will keep you busy for a while, read All About Coffee. This hefty tome is packed with information on culture, brewing methods, history, and more. 

In 1901, Ukers was editor of The Spice Mill, which was the magazine for the Jabez Burns coffee company. Ukers wanted to turn The Spice Mill into a trade journal, but the boss turned down the idea, so Ukers left the company. He went on to write All About Coffee and its companion, All About Tea.

Originally written in the 1920s, this reads like a textbook. A true coffee aficionado will want to work through its comprehensive contents. When you get your copy, think twice about reading it like a regular book. It’s really more like an encyclopedia because it’s so jammed with information. All About Coffee makes a great coffee table book to have around as a reference or as a conversation piece when you have company.

Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia
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Did you know that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee? That’s where it all began, so it only makes sense for a book to dive deep into Ethiopia’s coffee trade. Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia takes readers into the complex world of growing beans, harvesting them, drying the beans, and eventually making them into coffee or espresso. It’s a fascinating read for people who have loved coffee for years and already have a little background on the subject. The book provides detailed insights into the routes used to bring beans to the consumer, as well as maps of the farms in Ethiopia where coffee beans are grown.

Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia was written by Aaron Davis, Zeleke Kebebew Challa, Jenny Williams, Susana Baena, Woldermariam Gole, and Justin Moat.

The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee
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If you’ve ever wanted to know all the ins and outs of being a barista, The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee is your book. Not only is this coffee table book filled with information about the history of coffee, it also embraces the community and science behind making coffee. This book has enough information to entertain actual baristas, but it’s accessible enough for the novice coffee lover who is just getting their taste buds acclimated to the diverse flavors the industry has to offer. If you’re interetsed in recipes that center around coffee, Stephenson outlines the full process of making desserts and tasty treats using your favorite bean. 

Stephenson has worked in the hospitality industry for over a decade and a half. He’s famous in the bartending world for his understanding of molecular mixology and cocktail science, and has opened his own bars and eateries, including Purl, Dach & Sons, and The Worship Street Whistling Shop. Stephenson contributes regularly to food and rink publications. He has been named one of London’s 1000 most influential people.

How to Make Coffee: The Science Behind the Bean
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To brew a plain old cup of coffee might seem like a straightforward task, but when you start learning about the science behind your daily cup, you’ll begin to understand all the complexities of even the most basic Arabica coffee. You’ll also begin to appreciate the surprises that can come your way when you look to less common beans for your daily caffeine fix.

Lani Kingston studies not only coffee but also the heritage and anthropology behind food. How to Make Coffee is her first book, but it’s a great read that’s full of delightful insights and useful illustrations.

The Art and Craft of Coffee: An Enthusiast's Guide to Selecting, Roasting, and Brewing Exquisite Coffee
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If you’re tired of your usual cup and want to learn how to produce something truly exceptional, The Art and Craft of Coffee can start you on your way. You’ll find practical tips on how to choose a coffee grinder, roast your own beans, and a manual on how to brew French press, manual drip, espresso, and several other types of coffee. Pictures help you learn the process behind brewing the best cup every time. The book also offers background information about where beans come from and how they’re harvested. 

The information comes from one of the most widely recognized coffee experts. Sinnott has made a DVD and two books on the subject, and has appeared on several television shows and in newspaper publications, including The Food Network and the Chicago Tribune.

The Birth of Coffee
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You might believe that your barista is the one to thank for your daily cup of bliss. And while the person making your cup certainly has an important role in the experience, a barista is only as good as the beans they have to work with. 

The people who grow the beans are the unsung heroes of the coffee world. The Birth of Coffee uses beautiful, two-toned photographs, stained with actual coffee, to take you deeper into the world and culture of the people whose labor provides the source material for your favorite beverage.

Daniel Lorenzetti and Linda Rice Lorenzetti traveled to harvesting hot spots all around the Coffee Belt to bring you this book: Guatemala, Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen, Indonesia, Columbia, Brazil, and Costa Rica.

Coffee Obsession
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Many people who are new to the world of coffee want to know more about just about everything. Coffee Obsession is a good place to start. It’s accessible to just about anyone, and teaches how coffee is grown, roasted, brewed, and more. It looks at the different flavors, styles, and techniques that make each type of coffee unique. The book is filled with pictures, diagrams, maps, and techniques that will help you brew the perfect pot. It even gives step-by-step instructions for how to make a great cappuccino, espresso, and other well-loved coffee drinks.

Moldvaer, business partner to James Hoffman, wrote the book in part to dispel the myth that all coffee from a certain country tastes the same. She is the green coffee buyer for their Square Mile Coffee Roasters, and travels to each of the regions where she buys coffee to talk with the people growing the beans and learn more about the conditions in which they’re grown.

Everything but Espresso
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If you want to learn how to make great coffee the scientific way, you should read Everything But Espresso. This book gets into how the water you use affects your pot of coffee and a whole lot more. It’s great for people who get the basics of making coffee, but want to get to another level by learning tips and tricks that can turn the average bean into a gourmet cup.

Rao opened his first café and roastery when he was 22, and was soon selling to over 1000 customers per day. After he sold his coffee shop, he moved to New Zealand to work and learn in the coffee industry there. When he returned to the U.S., Rao opened a shop inspired by the tastes he found in New Zealand. Eventually, he began writing books, consulting, and training baristas. Besides Everything But Espresso, Rao is also the author of The Professional Barista’s Handbook and The Coffee Roaster’s Companion.

Whether you’re a tenured barista or a newbie coffee taster, you’re sure to find something among these books for coffee lovers that’s an excellent match for your current skill level and interests. While we consider these the best books about coffee, there are many others that can help you gain a better appreciation for coffee and better understand the long journey of your favorite bean.

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