God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee
  • God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee
  • God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee

God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee

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by Michaele Weissman
     
 

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Can a cup of coffee reveal the face of God? Can it become the holy grail of modern-day knights errant who brave hardship and peril in a relentless quest for perfection? Can it change the world? These questions are not rhetorical. When highly prized coffee beans sell at auction for $50, $100, or $150 a pound wholesale (and potentially twice that at retail), anything

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Overview

Can a cup of coffee reveal the face of God? Can it become the holy grail of modern-day knights errant who brave hardship and peril in a relentless quest for perfection? Can it change the world? These questions are not rhetorical. When highly prized coffee beans sell at auction for $50, $100, or $150 a pound wholesale (and potentially twice that at retail), anything can happen.

In God in a Cup, journalist and late-blooming adventurer Michaele Weissman treks into an exotic and paradoxical realm of specialty coffee where the successful traveler must be part passionate coffee connoisseur, part ambitious entrepreneur, part activist, and part Indiana Jones. Her guides on the journey are the nation's most heralded coffee business hotshots—Counter Culture's Peter Giuliano, Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts, and Stump-town's Duane Sorenson.

Weissman tells the absorbing tale of an odyssey she shares with these and other brash visionaries who devote themselves to coffee with near-religious fervor, unquenchable energy, and geek-like attention to detail. This journey through the rituals and rivalries of today's ultra-premium coffee business begins in a sweltering Central American hotel, where "cupping" competition judges sniff and spit their way through hundreds of cups, detecting tobacco, chocolate, and blueberry in the brews.

Then, visiting remote farms in Nicaragua, Panama, and Burundi, the buyers encourage growers to improve coffee quality, offering fabulous prices for exquisite beans, and in so doing, they unwittingly upend existing markets. Dealing directly with farmers, the buyers sometimes run afoul of governments, the Fair Trade movement, cooperatives, and the farmers themselves. In Ethiopia—the mother ship of the coffee universe—the young coffee guys search for the birthplace of the legendary Geisha coffee, presumed genetic parent of the coveted, prize-winning Hacienda La Esmeralda Special. Instead, they discover a world of coffee not yet known—thousands of varieties never cultivated, never catalogued, never cupped.

Back home, Weissman examines how specialty roasters tap into a growing consumer fascination with premium coffee. She visits Stumptown in Portland, the rock-and-roll coffee roaster some consider the most cutting edge in the world; tracks the progress of Chicago's Intelligentsia, which will go anywhere and spend any amount to acquire the best beans and is now engaged in a high-stakes gamble to conquer the Los Angeles market; and explores Counter Culture's approach of teaching students, chefs, and foodies the secrets of high-end coffee while wholesaling beans to the hottest coffee bars and restaurants up and down the East Coast.

With their obsessive standards and fiercely competitive baristas, these roasters are creating a new culture of coffee connoisseurship in America—a culture in which $10 lattes are both a purist's pleasure and a way to improve the lives of third-world farmers. If you love a good cup of coffee—or a great adventure story—you'll love this unprecedented look up close at the people and passions behind today's best beans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From Ethiopia to Panama to Portland, journalist Weissman shadows today’s vanguard "coffee guys" in their pursuit of the perfect, caffeinated beverage. With increased demand for specialty roasts superior to the mass-marketed offerings at Starbucks, Weissman illustrates how the origin, flavor compounds and socioeconomic impact of a cup of coffee are relevant now more than ever. Alongside industry leaders from some of the U.S.’s top roasters—Counter Culture, Intelligentsia and Stumptown—Weismann treks to the birthplace of coffee, remote plantations, and international competitions where the best coffees in the world are cupped (or tasted), scored and where winners like Panamanian grower Hacienda La Esmeralda’s revered "Geisha" coffee earn $130 per pound. Visiting both ends of the producer-consumer spectrum, she sheds light on the partnership between those who sell premium coffee and the impoverished who farm it—examining how specialty standards enable improved production, exceptional beans, fair prices and fatter pockets across the board. On the imbibing end, Weissman penetrates today’s amped-up coffee culture: its sleek coffee bars, tattooed coffee-geeks behind the counters, fiercely competitive roasters working alongside champion baristas. Tagging along behind the main characters in today’s specialty coffee scene, Weissman travels from the exotic to the expected to artfully deconstruct the connoisseur’s cup of coffee. (May) (Publishers Weekly, March 31, 2008)
Publishers Weekly

From Ethiopia to Panama to Portland, journalist Weissman shadows today's vanguard "coffee guys" in their pursuit of the perfect, caffeinated beverage. With increased demand for specialty roasts superior to the mass-marketed offerings at Starbucks, Weissman illustrates how the origin, flavor compounds and socioeconomic impact of a cup of coffee are relevant now more than ever. Alongside industry leaders from some of the U.S.'s top roasters-Counter Culture, Intelligentsia and Stumptown-Weismann treks to the birthplace of coffee, remote plantations, and international competitions where the best coffees in the world are cupped (or tasted), scored and where winners like Panamanian grower Hacienda La Esmeralda's revered "Geisha" coffee earn $130 per pound. Visiting both ends of the producer-consumer spectrum, she sheds light on the partnership between those who sell premium coffee and the impoverished who farm it-examining how specialty standards enable improved production, exceptional beans, fair prices and fatter pockets across the board. On the imbibing end, Weissman penetrates today's amped-up coffee culture: its sleek coffee bars, tattooed coffee-geeks behind the counters, fiercely competitive roasters working alongside champion baristas. Tagging along behind the main characters in today's specialty coffee scene, Weissman travels from the exotic to the expected to artfully deconstruct the connoisseur's cup of coffee. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470173589
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/05/2008
Pages:
268
Sales rank:
892,269
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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