So I finished this book a few day ago written by Mark Pendergrast (You can read the intro here). The main chord that struck me about the book was the fact that it mainly delt with the relationship between the United States and growing regions of Latin America. This isn't a bad thing, it was just something that I was not expecting since the book was pegged as the history of coffee. I should note two things though before I go on, first I was reading the 2000 edition of the book and second there were blurbs in the book about other things like the rise of espresso in Europe, but nothing indepth.
After reading the book it makes you think of coffee a little differently. As I feel I should put more thought in my coffee buying going forward. The reason for this is you learn how coffee has been used to line the pockets of questionable leaders in Latin America, as well as our own destablizing effects on the region from wanting cheap coffee all the time. I really appreciate wanting to pay more for coffee now to try and help support those that are making a good product.
I think that is where we should all start, buying beans that are of high quality because those are the beans that are hopefully coming from farms where they pay their workers more. They pay them more so they will only pick ripe berries and not the whole bunch regardless of ripeness. Which I think if you are on this site you are probably already doing this.
So I am going to try and stay away from even buying big coffee even in a pinch. That was something else in the book that was really interesting. Almost all of the major coffee brands we think of started off as regional roasters, Maxwell House, Folgers, Hills Brother, Yuban, etc. However, they were all eventually bought out and advertised the heck out of.
All these brands that might have been at one time good were eventually taken down the road mediocrity in the name of profits, doing things like getting away from batch roasting, starting instant coffee with roubosta, staling their coffee so they could seal it in a can. It's rather disheartening, especially since you learn people have always known how to taste and make good coffee, we just lost it because of advertisers.
There are a lot of good things in this book and if you have the time I would strongly recomment giving it a read.
Coffee: Vivace Vita
Taste: Very smooth, no bitters at all and carmelly sweet. Not too nuanced but very balanced.