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Cup of Joe or Joy?: Reads for National Coffee Month


Cup of Joe or Joy?: Reads for National Coffee Month

coffee month

August is National Coffee Month! But do we really need a special month to celebrate one of the most popular beverages in the world?

Coffee is grown commercially on four continents and consumed enthusiastically on all seven.  Millions rely on the aromatic bean for their daily caffeine jolt, and millions more depend on it for their livelihoods. Coffee lovers attest that nothing compares to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. For many, a cup of joe is the ultimate get-up-and-go beverage.  

Here are some nonfiction reads on this much loved beverage, followed by fiction featuring coffeeshops, baristas, coffee planters or the coffee industry.


coffee cocktails

The Art & Craft of Coffee Cocktails: Over 75 Recipes For Mixing Coffee And Liquor by Jason Clark

World-class mixologist Clark will inspire, excite and educate you by taking you behind the bar for a masterclass in creating coffee-based cocktails.  Learn how to perfect simple classics such as Espresso Martini and Irish coffee or try your hand at technical modern marvels Golden Velvet and Death By Caffeine.

Coffee A Global History by Jonathan Morris

Morris explains both how the world acquired a taste for this humble bean, and why the beverage tastes so differently throughout the world. He identifies the regions and ways in which coffee has been grown, who worked the farms and who owned them, and how the beans were processed, traded, and transported. Morris also explores the businesses behind coffee—the brokers, roasters, and machine manufacturers—and dissects the geopolitics linking producers to consumers.

Coffee: From Bean to Barista by Robert Thurston

This engaging guide traces the history, cultivation, and culture of coffee, as well as the major factors influencing the industry today. Thurston considers cultivation and its challenges, especially climate change; new research on hybridization; the history of coffee and cultural change surrounding it around the world; devices, new and old, for making coffee drinks; the issue of organic versus conventional agriculture; and the health benefits of the brew.

The Coffee Book by Anette Moldvaer

 Discover the origins of coffee and its production before exploring over 40 country profiles, showcasing the incredible variety of beans grown around the world. Master different roasting, grinding, tamping and brewing techniques, plus the equipment needed. Experiment with some 70 recipes, ranging from café culture classics, such as the Americano, to more adventurous flavor combinations like the Almond Fig Latte or the Hazelnut Frappé, as well as non-dairy milk alternatives,

Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire And The Making Of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick

The epic story of the rise of coffee in the Americas, and how it connected and divided the modern world. This history of how coffee came to be produced by the world’s poorest people and consumed by its richest opens up a unique perspective on how the modern globalized world works, ultimately provoking a reconsideration of what it means to be connected to far-away people and places through the familiar things that make up our everyday lives.

complete book of coffee

The Complete Book Of Coffee : The Definitive Guide To Coffee, From Simple Bean To Irresistible Beverage by Mary Banks

The definitive illustrated guide to coffee: its history, where it is grown, the beans, the types of roast and grind, and how to brew and drink it. Features a comprehensive survey of the coffee-producing countries around the world, and the quality and characteristics of different kinds of bean. Over 70 recipes demonstrate the wonderful versatility of coffee in the kitchen, with delicious soufflés and meringues, puddings, fruit and frozen desserts, and enticing cakes, pastries, breads and biscuits.

From The Ground Up: A Journey To Reimagine The Promise Of America by Howard Schultz

From the longtime CEO and chairman of Starbucks, a bold, dramatic work about the new responsibilities that leaders, businesses, and citizens share in American society today—as viewed through the intimate lens of one man’s life and work. 

The Home Café : Creative Recipes For Espresso, Matcha, Tea And Coffee Drinks by Asia Lui Chapa

That first sip of caffeine is pure magic–so why not treat yourself and make it an all-out celebration? With this classy curation of recipes, you’ll find endless ideas to take your morning cup of tea or coffee to the next level with fun flourishes, new flavors and fresh takes–from fruity matcha spritzers to dessert-inspired lattes. These drinks make it easy to bring the warm aesthetic and delicious notes of a café into your own home. You’ll capture that quintessential barista taste without spending extra money or changing out of your pajamas.

How To Make The Best Coffee At Home by James Hoffmann

The author demonstrates everything you need to know to make consistently excellent coffee at home, including: what equipment is worth buying, and what isn’t; how to grind coffee; the basics of brewing for all major equipment (cafetiere, aeropress, stovetop etc); understanding coffee drinks, from the cortado to latte and the perfect espresso.

The Marley Coffee Cookbook : One Love, Many Coffees, And 100 Recipes by Rohan Marley

Most people know of coffee only as a beverage or as flavoring for ice cream, but in red-eye gravy, it’s always been a part of America’s culinary tradition. Like chocolate, with which it shares a similar flavor profile, coffee perfumes many savory dishes. Rohan Marley, son of reggae superstar Bob Marley, has raised coffee in his native Jamaica, and he markets coffee also from other worldwide sustainable sources, such as Ethiopia. With chef Maxcel Hardy’s skill, Marley makes coffee a component in all manner of foods. He enhances traditional jerk seasoning with coffee, and he uses coffee in stews of chicken and lamb. Even salad dressing gets a jolt of java. Coffee aficionados will find a lot here to broaden their culinary imaginations.

monk of mokha

The Monk Of Mokha by Dave Eggers

Eggers portrays Yemeni American Mokhtar Alkhanshali, who, after an unruly childhood in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, a transformative stay in Yemen with his grandfather, and success as a car salesman, finally finds his calling, which proves to be quixotic and dangerous: he commits himself to restoring Yemen’s long-forgotten standing as the world’s first and best coffee producer. Eggers crisply recounts coffee’s delectably roguish history, into which Mokhtar’s Sisyphean struggles fit perfectly. 

The New Rules of Coffee: A Modern Guide for Everyone by Jordan Michelman & Zachary Carlsen

An illustrated guide to the essential rules for enjoying coffee both at home and in cafes, including tips on storing and serving coffee, coffee growing, roasting and brewing, plus facts, lore, and popular culture from around the globe.

Where The Wild Coffee Grows : The Untold Story Of Coffee From The Cloud Forests Of Ethiopia To Your Cup by Jeff Koehler

Koehler, author of the IACP-winning Darjeeling, explores the history, development, and spread of coffee throughout the globe in this well-researched book. From the remotest parts of the world to large cities, coffee is truly a global product, and the trade is a nexus for colonialism, religion, culture, economics, and agriculture. While focused on the beverage’s past, this book argues that Ethiopia may also be the future of coffee, as its trees are the hardiest at battling rust and other diseases along with being the most trait-diverse, which is increasingly important as climate change is affecting various growing regions.


coffee shop of curiosities

At The Coffee Shop Of Curiosities by Heather S. Webber

A mysterious letter. An offer taken. And the chance to move forward. When Ava Harrison receives a letter containing an unusual job listing one month after the sudden death of her ex-boyfriend, she thinks she’s being haunted. The listing–a job as a live-in caretaker for a peculiar old man and his cranky cat in Driftwood, Alabama–is the perfect chance to start a new life. A normal life. Ava has always been too fearful to even travel, so no one’s more surprised than she is when she throws caution to the wind and drives to the distant beachside town. On the surface, Maggie Mae Brightwell is a bundle of energy as she runs Magpie’s, Driftwood’s coffee and curiosity shop, where there’s magic to be found in pairing the old with the new. But lurking under her cheerful exterior is a painful truth–keeping busy is the best way to distract herself from the lingering loss of her mama and her worries about her aging father. No one knows better than she does that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but holding on to the past is the only thing keeping the hope alive that her mama will return home one day. Ava and Maggie soon find they’re kindred spirits, as they’re both haunted–not by spirits, but by regret. Both must learn to let go of the past to move on–because sometimes the waves of change bring you to the place where you most belong.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Before the Coffee Gets Cold Series Series, Book 1 by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

In a small back alley of Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee—the chance to travel back in time.

Over the course of one summer, four customers visit the café in the hopes of making that journey. But time travel isn’t so simple, and there are rules that must be followed. Most importantly, the trip can last only as long as it takes for the coffee to get cold.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss

Set in Amsterdam in the mid-1600s, where Jews could escape persecution and practice their religion freely, the dubious hero is Miguel Lienzo, a former secret Jew who has fled his native Portugal for this city of freedom. Once a successful commodities broker, Miguel is down on his luck until he tastes a strange foreign beverage called coffee and decides that the lowly bean is the key to regaining his fortunes. Miguel’s convoluted and illegal plan for importing coffee leads to entanglements with enemies old and new and to a relationship with his brother’s wife, an independent woman trapped in a restrictive culture.

Crema : A Haunted Romance In Three Chapters by Johnnie Christmas (graphic novel)

Esme, a barista, feels invisible, like a ghost… also, when Esme drinks too much coffee she actually sees ghosts. Yara, the elegant heir to a coffee plantation, is always seen, but only has eyes for Esme. Their world is turned upside down when the strange ghost of an old-world nobleman begs Esme to take his letter from New York City to a haunted coffee farm in Brazil, to reunite him with his lost love of a century ago.

death by coffee

Death by Coffee: A Bookstore Cafe Mystery by Alex Erickson

When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore café in their new town of Pine Hills, Ohio, they decide to call it Death by Coffee, after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits.

On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts—but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?

Death By Iced Coffee by Alex Erickson

Bookstore-café owner Krissy Hancock is stepping out from behind the counter to take part in the first annual Pine Hills, Ohio, marathon. But with a killer close by, she may soon be running for her life . . . It’s a brutally hot day in Pine Hills, and Krissy Hancock would love to be sitting in a shady spot and sipping her favorite iced coffee. Instead, she’s lacing up her sneakers for a marathon–and swiftly regretting it. Especially when she finds one of the other runners lying motionless. At first Krissy suspects heatstroke, but the red marks around the man’s throat tell a more sinister story. The victim, it turns out, had brewed up all kinds of enemies thanks to his cheating ways–both romantic and financial. Krissy’s not keen to get involved, but her friend Rita’s boyfriend, Johan, seems to be mixed up in the mayhem. For Rita’s sake, Krissy wants to help filter out the real killer. But can she do it before another Pine Hills resident gets permanently iced?

Death Of A Bean Counter by Sandra Balzo

Maggy Thorsen’s head is spinning thanks to partner Sarah Kingston’s latest idea — selling luxe espresso machines in their Wisconsin coffeehouse, Uncommon Grounds. But Maggy soon faces a far bigger problem when her fiance, sheriff Jake Pavlik, makes an official call on the coffee house’s star barista, Amy Caprese. Amy’s wealthy new beau, investment adviser Kip Fargo, has been shot dead in his bed — and Amy is the last known person to see him alive. Kip had just proposed to Amy, but she turned him down, triggering a terrible argument and making Amy the prime suspect.

Double Shot Death by Emmeline Duncan

At Campathon, an annual eco-friendly festival held on a farm outside of Portland … Sage has scored a coveted place for her Ground Rules coffee cart thanks to her new-ish boyfriend, Bax, who’s friendly with Maya, one of the musicians performing … When Sage stumbles upon a dead body in the nearby woods–his hand still clutching one of her coffee mugs–it’s clear that someone’s grudge boiled over into murder.

cleo coyle

Shot In The Dark by Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse Mysteries series)

A smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hotspot–until a gunshot turns the landmark coffeehouse into a crime scene. As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi fixes a date for her wedding, her ex-husband is making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these match-ups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find. The corpse is an entrepreneur who used dating apps with reckless abandon–breaking hearts along the way. The NYPD quickly arrests one of the heartbreaker’s recent conquests. But the suspect’s sister tearfully swears her sibling was framed. Clare not only finds reason to believe it, she fears the real killer will strike again. Now Clare is “swiping” through suspects in her own shop–with the help of her globetrotting ex-husband, a man who’s spent his life hunting for coffee and women. Together they’re determined to find justice before another shot rings out.

Flat White Fatality by Emmeline Duncan

To top off her coffee business, Sage is now helping out with her boyfriend Bax’s gaming company … That makes it easy for her to pitch in with Bax’s employee team-building event. The plan is to boost morale with a scavenger hunt. And it seems to be going well–until Robbie, a programmer known for being a prankster, turns up dead in Sage’s roastery. There are two suspects so far–Now, it’s up to Sage to find the culprit–before another life grinds to a halt.

Grounds For Murder : A Coffee Lover’s Mystery by Tara Lush

When her best but most difficult employee switches sides days before a state barista championship, coffee-shop owner Lana Lewis investigates jilted lovers, a shrimp-boat captain, and a mafia-connected surfer to prove her innocence of a rival’s murder.

The Taste Of Sugar by Marisel Vera

Up in the mountainous coffee region of Utuado, Vicente Vega and Valentina Sanchez labor to keep their small farm from the creditors. When the Spanish-American War and the great San Ciriaco Hurricane of 1899 bring devastating upheaval, the young couple is lured, along with thousands of other puertorriquenos, to the sugar plantations of Hawaii-another US territory-where they are confronted by the hollowness of America’s promises of prosperity.

Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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