Best Coffee Books Reviews

Posted in  Coffee  on  April 10, 2021 by  Urban Bean Coffee Team

This is our list of the best coffee books.

Studying coffee literature is useful for both beginner coffee lovers and industry professionals.

Our team has compiled a list of 9 top-rated coffee books to share with you.

The best part?

You'll find a huge variety of books on this list. Each book was written for a different purpose, so at the end of each review we'll point out who we think the book is most helpful for.

Let's get started!

The Best Coffee Books

1. The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing — Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed by James Hoffmann

James Hoffmann has been in the coffee industry since 2003. He has founded several companies, won several championships, and written two excellent coffee books.

Hoffmann has made many contributions to the coffee industry, and The World Atlas of Coffee is one of them. This book is a fundamental work worth reading for anyone interested in coffee or a coffee-related career.

The book consists of three sections:

  • "Introduction to Coffee" discusses the coffee plant, coffee varieties, and how harvest, processing, and transportation take place.
  • "From Bean to Cup" is about how to select, store, evaluate, and brew coffee. This section will be especially interesting for those who want to make a delicious cup of coffee at home but don't know where to begin. Hoffmann generously shares his knowledge of grinding, water, and brewing and explains in detail how to brew great coffee using popular devices, including a French press, Moka pot, and espresso machine.
  • "Coffee Origins" is about the peculiarities of growing coffee in different regions of the world. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular country and describes geography and cultivation, production history, and features typical of that country—including taste characteristics of the coffee grown there.

The World Atlas of Coffee will be of interest to those who want to know what happens to coffee before it hits the cup, those who are interested in economics and geography, and those who want to learn how to make delicious coffee on their own. In general, it's a good book for all coffee lovers and industry professionals.

2. Coffee: A Celebration of Diversity by Vincenzo Sandalj and Fulvio Eccardi

This magnificent book was written by two Italians. Vincenzo Sandalj was the director of the coffee company Sandalj and for a time headed the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE); Fulvio Eccardi is a biologist and photographer who studies biodiversity.

The book is devoted to the peculiarities of growing coffee in different parts of the world, but while Hoffmann's World Atlas is a reference guide, Coffee: A Celebration of Diversity contains meditative text alongside stunning photos taken by Eccardi. In each chapter, you can see the authors' admiration for nature and for the people whose hard work allows us to enjoy our favorite drink.

In this book, you will not find descriptions of taste or discussions about which coffee is better and why, but you will come to understand that every kind of coffee is valuable and beautiful in its own way.

Coffee: A Celebration of Diversity will delight those who love coffee, nature, and travel.

3. Coffee Nerd: How to Have Your Coffee and Drink It Too by Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown is a journalist and writer originally from Australia. She now lives in the US, writes for various publications, and in 2015 published Coffee Nerd.

Brown has never worked as a barista—all her knowledge is the result of tastings, experiments, reading, and communication. Her book is very informative and useful: it is clear that Brown knows what she's writing about.

What we love most about this book is that it is very funny and reads easily, like an entertainment magazine. The author talks to you like an old friend, makes jokes, and gives blunt advice like "If you have a blade coffee grinder, throw it out."

There are a lot of useful, important, and interesting things in this book. It covers the history of specialty coffee and coffee culture, advises on choosing drinks in coffee shops and beans from roasters, and includes a huge section dedicated to home brewing. It contains a lot of everything that a real coffee lover will enjoy.

You should read Brown's book if you are just starting to get acquainted with coffee culture and feel a little uncomfortable in coffee shops, and if you prefer entertaining articles to serious literature.

4. Craft Coffee: A Manual: Brewing a Better Cup at Home by Jessica Easto

Jessica Easto is a writer and editor based in Chicago. She does not work in the coffee industry but has enjoyed making coffee at home for over eight years. Her husband, Andreas Willhoff, consulted on the book, leads trainings at Halfwit Coffee Roasters, and runs the Wormhole Coffee shop.

Craft Coffee is a guide to brewing coffee drinks at home. There is no chapter on espresso because espresso is not a “home” brewing method—it is often considered too complicated and expensive for the home.

But the book includes information about varieties of coffee beans, an overview of coffee geography with a description of taste notes from different countries, and an explanation of the roasting process. Plus, you'll learn everything you need to know about grinding, water, temperature, and choosing the perfect device for a particular purpose. One section is devoted to the taste and aroma of coffee.

The book will be useful to anyone who brews coffee at home or wants to learn how to, as well as to baristas who work with alternative methods of brewing coffee.

In 2017, the book was even named a top food & drink book by The Food Network, Wired, Sprudge, and Booklist.

5. How to Make Coffee: The Science Behind the Bean by Lani Kingston

Lani Kingston has been professionally involved in projects related to the food industry for a long time. She currently runs Four Seasons of Food, a food service and food processing consulting agency.

Kingston has been writing articles on food and drinks for various publications for a long time, but How to Make Coffee is her first book.

Despite the title, the section that describes how to brew coffee in various devices takes up only one-fifth of the book. Everything else is science: the cultivation and production of coffee, the structure and chemical composition of the coffee bean, processing and roasting, the subtleties of choosing water and steaming milk, etc. Kingston's book can be read like a textbook that will help you structure your knowledge about coffee and get an idea of how to make coffee correctly.

The book will appeal to those who want to immerse themselves in theory and look at coffee from a scientific point of view, as well as those who need to understand the basic principles of brewing any type of coffee.

6. The Best of Jimseven 2004 - 2015 by James Hoffmann

Hoffmann's second book on this list is a collection of selected articles from his blog.

The book consists of four sections: "On Espresso," "On Coffee Brewing," "On Coffee Business," and "On a Coffee Career." Each contains articles on a variety of topics. The articles are dated, but are arranged in logical sequence rather than chronologically. Hoffmann says that "the book is conceived in such a way as to plunge into it from time to time, and not read from cover to cover."

This book is not for newcomers to the coffee world—it will appeal to those who already have some knowledge and experience and are ready to learn more. Hoffmann experiments, reflects, and sometimes asks unexpected questions like “What taste does an apple have?” He looks at familiar things from a different angle and makes you wonder: what do we know about coffee?

7. What I Know About Running Coffee Shops by Colin Harmon

Colin Harmon, four-time winner of the Irish Barista Championship and founder of the 3fe Coffee (Third Floor Espresso) chain, shares his knowledge of how to open a coffee shop, how to manage it, and how to help it succeed.

This book can be read as a practical guide if you are dreaming of your coffee shop or have already opened one and want to know what can be improved. It covers everything you need to know: choosing a location, drawing up a business model, hiring staff, communicating with guests, selling coffee, and more. The first piece of advice Harmon gives to those wishing to open a coffee shop is to get a job in a café to get an inside understanding of how the hospitality sector works.

The book will be useful not only for coffee shop owners or those who plan to open a café but also for baristas and managers, as it contains many useful tips and tricks that will help improve service and productivity.

8. The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea by Scott Rao

Scott Rao is a coffee consultant with 25 years of coffee experience. He's also the author of multiple coffee books, including The Professional Barista's Handbook, The Coffee Roaster's Companion, and Everything but Espresso. Even though The Professional Barista's Handbook was written more than ten years ago, it's still highly relevant.

The book is intended to provide a basic knowledge of coffee preparation for those who work in coffee shops. It consists of the following sections:

  • "Espresso" is all about making espresso, from grinding to blooming and more. The section also compares Italian and American styles of espresso.
  • "Scientific and Theoretical Foundations of Filtration and Extraction" is about what else you need to keep in mind to improve the taste of your espresso.
  • "Milk" is about steaming and pouring milk and making milk-based drinks.
  • "Barista Work Organization Systems" is about how to effectively organize the work behind the bar.
  • "Filter Coffee" is about how to prepare filter coffee in a coffee shop.
  • "French Press Coffee" is the only section in the book devoted to a manual brewing method.
  • "Water" is about the chemical composition of water and water standards for making coffee.

This is a basic book for those who are just getting started with coffee, but more experienced baristas can also find answers to their questions.

9. Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques by David C. Schomer

David Schomer is the co-founder of Espresso Vivace coffee shop and roasting company in Seattle. He's also a pioneer of the scientific approach to preparing espresso.

Espresso Coffee was written in 1996, and while it seems like an eternity has passed since then, little has changed in the intricacies of making a good espresso.

Schomer talks in detail about the design of coffee grinders and coffee machines, how to adjust the grind in a changing environment, and how temperature and pressure play a role in the preparation of espresso. Separate chapters of the book are devoted to cleaning the espresso machine, dosing and tamping the beans, and steaming and pouring milk.

The book will be of interest to professional baristas and those who want to learn more about the art of brewing espresso.

Conclusion

Of course, there are many more good coffee books, and reviewing them all in one article is impossible. Here are some more great books you should check out:

  • Coffee Technology by Michael Sivetz and Norman W. Desrosier (1979). A classic book on various aspects of coffee production.
  • The Craft and Science of Coffee by Britta Folmer (2017). A book about coffee as an object of scientific research and as a craft that unites millions of people around the world.
  • Everything but Espresso by Scott Rao (2010). A professional approach to brewing coffee in a variety of devices.
  • Coffee Roasting Best Practices by Scott Rao (2019). In his new book, Rao shares his many years of experience in roasting coffee. The book contains excellent concentrated material for those who are involved in roasting.

About the Author

Urban Bean Coffee Team

Coffee is part of the lives of everyone on the Urban Bean Coffee team. We are a group of professional baristas, coffee bean roasters, and coffee machine repairers. Coffee has connected us, and together we strive to provide the best information to our readers. Our responsibility is to provide advice on any and all coffee-related issues. And we know that to do this we must be experts in this field. The coffee consumption culture has changed dramatically over several centuries. New brewing methods, bean quality control methods, roasting methods, and much more have appeared. We are sure that coffee will change further, and we want to be involved in changing it for the better.

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