They say that knowledge is power. Books are like 90 percent knowledge by weight, so this holiday season, give the gift of mostly-power to your loved ones. “Power do to what?” you ask rhetorically. Why, the power to be better at coffee of course. Whether you’re making it, finding it, or talking about it, there have been a host of wonderful books to be published recently on one of the many facets of coffeedom.
And the best part about giving coffee books as gifts is that is a completely selfish act in the guise of thoughtfulness. The giftee will be all like, “Oh what a thoughtful gift. You really get me!” And you can be all, “Yep, I sure do. Hey, this one seems to say that you need to work on your pouring technique; maybe you should give that a try now.” And boom, you’re getting better coffee served at your every beck and call because you are the giver of such a thoughtful and indebting gift.
Being scholars (and sometimes contributors) to the dark arts, we at Sprudge have already devoured these new coffee texts and can confirm that they are of the utmost quality, sure to make the reader a better coffee person, and you look like a thoughtful gift giver. It’s a win-win (but you win more).
Say what you will about the importance of latte art, a really lovely rosetta served to a family member is the surest way to exhibit your home coffee prowess. Coffee Art, a new book from five-time UK Latte Art Champion Dhan Tamang, will teach you not only how to pour better hearts, tulips, and rosettas, but it also provides tutorials on more obscure etchings and 3D art, all accompanied with beautiful color photography examples. From the fundamentals of achieving proper milk texture to step-by-step guides to recreating some of Tamang’s signature pours, Coffee Art is sure to take your latte art to a whole new level.
Coffee Art retails for £10 ($12.99 USD) and is available through Octopus Books and major book retailers.
Where To Drink Coffee
One of the scariest parts of visiting a new city is having no idea where you can actually get good coffee. Not all specialty cafes are created equally and no one wants to schlep to the other side of a new town on a suspect recommendation only to be left wanting. Where To Drink Coffee makes sure this won’t ever happen to you no matter where you are in the world. Published by Phaidon—the folks behind such guidebooks as Where Chefs Eat and Where Bartenders Drink—Where To Drink Coffee is authored by Avidan Ross and Sprudge associate editor Liz Clayton and features contributions from some of your favorite Sprudge writers (a well-traveled and worldly lot if I’ve ever seen one) as well as veritable who’s who of coffee pros. If ever there were a group of people you’d want coffee shop suggestions from, it would be these folks.
Where To Drink Coffee retails for $29.95 and is available through Phaidon and major book retailers.
What I Know About Running Coffee Shops
Colin Harmon is a four-time Irish Barista Champion and founder of 3fe Coffee in Dublin, a cafe that has provided some of my best coffee shop experiences to date. Basically, when Harmon offers advice on how to run a successful coffee shop, you listen. What I Know About Running Coffee Shops is all of his years of coffee experience categorized and collated, in print form. Though perhaps unsexy topics, Harmon's book tackles issues on choosing buildings, staffing, milk, marketing, culture, and just about everything else needed to keep a cafe afloat in the nefarious world of thin margins. For anyone toying with the idea of taking the plunge into cafe ownership, this book is a must-read.
What I Know About Running Coffee Shops retails for €30 and is available through the book's official website.
Craft Coffee: A Manual
Despite its ubiquity amongst home users, brewed coffee is often a lackluster affair outside of a cafe setting. But thanks to Craft Coffee: A Manual, that may not be the case for much longer. Written by Jessica Easto—not a “coffee professional—with the help of her husband and coffee educator at Halfwit Coffee Andreas Willhoff, Craft Coffee is a beautifully written guide to improving your home coffee no matter what your brew method or current coffee setup. Whether you’re buying your first v60 or have every piece of brewing equipment on earth, Easto and Willholf provide clear steps to improving your cup as well as the theories underlying them. If this book doesn’t make your brew better, then I’m coming over to your house every morning, because your coffee is already top notch.
Craft Coffee: A Manual retails for $19.95 and is available through Agate Publishing and major book retailers.
Coffeeography: The Coffee Producers
Not all coffee books have to be about making coffee, you know. Some can enhance your appreciation for the world’s most popular beverage by providing you with a more complete view of the people who make it all possible. That’s the idea behind Coffeeography: The Coffee Producers by Stephen Leighton. The founder of Hasbean, co-owner of 3fe and Drop Coffee, co-host of Tamper Tantrum, and emcee of many World Barista Championships, Leighton is a man of many interests, and most of them are coffee-related. Relying on his many years visiting origin and 30,000+ photos taken during those trips, Leighton’s newest project profiles 40 coffee producers from 11 different countries. Through beautiful color photos and interview-style discussion, Coffeeography: The Coffee Producers brings to life stories not often told but nonetheless some of the most important in coffee.
Coffeeography: The Coffee Producers retails for £19.99 and is available through Hasbean.co.uk.
*top image via Dame Magazine