So want to learn more about coffee? If you’re a budding barista or already consider yourself a coffee expert, there’s no harm in a little reading to brush up your knowledge. That’s why we’ve reviewed our top 5 recommendations for amazing books about coffee.
Coffee can take you on a bit of a journey once you get the bug for it. You may just be beginning your coffee journey and looking to up your brewing game at home. Or this coffee thing may be a career (or prospective career) for you, in which case you want to step up to the next level to becoming a better barista or coffee roaster.
Whatever your interest level, we’ve got the reading recommendations you need. Having pawed through and consumed every book about coffee we could find, we’ve gained a wealth of knowledge that has helped our team to become experts in speciality coffee. What’s more is, we can help you by weeding out the weaker efforts from the top dogs so you know which ones to drop in your Amazon wish-list first.
That’s not to say that any books that didn’t make our top 5 are inferior or not worth reading, on the contrary you should read as many as you can to feed your craving for coffee knowledge. Picking our top five was by no means an easy choice but as they say, someone had to do it.
We’ve tried to mix things up, so you won’t just be reading the same information over and over again. There is of course some overlap, but this will only serve to compound your understanding of the key points, or offer a different point of view when it comes to grey areas that are more a matter of opinion - and there are plenty of those in coffee.
So, let’s look at our top 5 recommendations for amazing books about coffee.
‘How To Make Coffee’ by Lani Kingston
This book may be light and compact but it is packed with essential coffee knowledge for baristas of all levels. When it comes to making great coffee, it’s better to start off on the right foot then it is to fix bad habits later on.
That’s one of the reasons that we strongly recommend this book, in fact most baristas we know will refer to it for guidance on drinks recipes. It includes all the information you need to get your head around coffee, along with those all important recipes with the science to back them up.
Not only is this book beautifully written and easy to digest, it is also beautiful to look at with some wonderful illustrations and diagrams. If you’re looking to skill up your coffee making, especially in a professional arena this book will become a companion that you turn to again and again.
‘The Curious Barista’s Guide To Coffee’ by Tristan Stephenson
This book is another great one for coffee novices or anyone who’s only recently developed a keen interest. It goes into a little more detail about the whole journey than ‘How To Make Coffee’, with a wider coverage of each stage. So, you can probably already guess that this one is less optimised for travel!
You’ll learn about the history of coffee, its origins and even how to roast. Which gives you a great leg up if you’re interested in pursuing a career in coffee roasting. You’ll also find out all about the different brew methods with each one accompanied by helpful photography and easy to follow guides.
There are even some less traditional coffee recipes in there too, including tasty Espresso Martinis and coffee liqueurs, so you can extend your interest well beyond your morning brew.
‘The World Atlas of Coffee: From beans to brewing - coffees explored, explained and enjoyed’ by James Hoffman
Anyone who knows about James Hoffman will agree that’s a very James Hoffman title! Just kidding James, we’re of course massive fans and can attribute a great amount of our own development and expertise to his wisdom.
If the title of this article was ‘1 book about coffee that we strongly recommend’ this would probably be the one we recommend. There is arguably no better guide to coffee for anyone who is a beginner right through to coffee professionals.
To put it into context, this book is a worldwide bestseller, written by a World Barista Champion and co-founder of one of the UK’s most iconic coffee brands. His YouTube channel has over 230,000 subscribers mainly comprised of speciality baristas to whom coffee is more than an obsession.
Again you’ll learn about the history of coffee and all of its origins (grab the second edition if you can because this includes more origins than the first). There is probably more wisdom imparted around coffee theory in this book than any other, without it being too granular in detail. There is also some beautiful photography from Hoffman’s travels that makes this book a joy to look at as well as read.
‘The Coffee Dictionary: An A-Z of coffee, from growing & roasting to brewing & tasting’ by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood
Coffee can be a labyrinth of industry terms that you can sometimes take for granted when you spend your life surrounded by coffee people. With that said, we often find ourselves stumped in conversations. Our greater awareness and interest and thirst for knowledge as coffee consumers means we always have to continue to grow our vocabulary and our understanding of what it all means. That’s why ‘The Coffee Dictionary…’ is a worthwhile addition to any coffee lover’s bookshelf.
Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood is another Champion Barista (are you picking up the theme?) and has condensed all of his experience into a comprehensive list of terms that are alphabetised and easy to digest.
You’ll be able to easily look up terms related to coffee farming, production, roasting and, of course, brewing. Which makes this book a handy companion alongside any of the other book’s we’ve already mentioned in this article.
Again, the illustrations and overall design of the book are simple and beautiful. That’s quite the eye-catching library you’re putting together!
‘The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea’ by Scott Rao
We previously mentioned going into granular detail and coffee being more than an obsession to some baristas. If that sounds like you then you’ll love this book by another notable name in coffee, Scott Rao.
Why would we recommend this book when it appears to cover the exact things that all the others do? Our main attraction is Rao’s ability to cater for those who are serious about coffee, this book is probably THE practical guide for professional baristas.
This book covers the basics, with Rao sharing his wisdom from 15 years of experience in the coffee business. What’s more alluring is Rao’s ability to communicate the science without sending us clutching for the coffee in fear of slipping into a coma.
If you want to make great coffee in a professional environment, or if you own a speciality coffee shop and want to set the standard for your staff, this is the book you need to hand them on day one.
Rao also wrote ‘The Coffee Roaster’s Companion’ which is also a fantastically practical read for anyone looking to enhance their focus on that part of the journey, or indeed forge a career in it.
That’s our list of the top 5 books about coffee that we recommend to anyone who shares our obsession. It doesn’t matter if you’re a home brewer or a seasoned coffee professional, we must all continue to grow our knowledge to keep coffee moving forward while celebrating its rich history.