Left unattended, the ubiquitous coffee table quickly becomes a gatekeeper of everything from last October’s cable bill (you paid that, didn’t you?) to the feet of undisciplined friends and family. We know you run a tighter ship than most and appreciate how a well-placed read can stimulate conversations faster than a triple shot from Intelligentsia. While an iPad locked and loaded on our Fortnight of Coffee is an obvious choice, we’ve also got a crop of coffee-themed books worthy of displacing Ansel Adams or your decades-long dedication to the Maxim Hot 100. Loaded with incredible imagery, illustrations and invaluable information — all in oversized form — each of these five coffee table books about coffee is an excellent choice for the most discerning bean aficionado.
The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes
Famous for their elaborate and exacting pour-over brewing technique, James and Caitlin Freeman have created a coffee table companion that amplifies their obsession. The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee offers insight into the coffee life cycle, with special attention paid to roasting and the importance of brewing methods. Explanatory illustrations and beautiful photography are found throughout along with over thirty coffee-inspired recipes to keep Pavlovians turning pages. Our pick is the Stout Coffee Cake with Pecan-Caraway Streusel for its subtle mix of pecan and caraway. Just kidding. It’s for the coffee and the beer.
Espresso Coffee, Second Edition: The Science of Quality
With complete chapters dedicated to the grind and the best type of cup, Espresso Coffee: The Science of Quality is the result of passion wrapped up in a lab coat. For those who question why such exacting dedication should exist for a simple beverage, the editors respond: “Espresso consumption is an aesthetic experience, like tasting a vintage wine or admiring a painting. It is a search for beauty and goodness for improving the quality of our life. As it offers subjectively ineffable ‘goodness’, devoid of defects, the only adequate reaction to it is astonishment — astonishment that can give birth to enthusiasm, and therefore intellectual and spiritual enrichment.” We’re not about to argue with that.
Everything But Espresso: Professional Coffee Brewing Techniques
Do you prefer flavor clarity over body in your brew? Do you know that the two characteristics are inversely proportional? Scott Rao does, and his book Everything But Espresso: Professional Coffee Brewing Techniques will teach you how to properly brew your beans to get that desired cup. You’ll also find out about ExtractMoJo, the Coffee Brewing Control Chart, and how to read the shape of used coffee grounds. In other words, it’s knowledge that makes you a happy coffee drinker, and that lets you be the smug one at the coffee house — without lens-less specs or skinny jeans.
Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle
Hanna Neuschwander’s Left Coast Roast is coffee connoisseurs’ Frommers, the perfect guide for Westies in search of caffeinated bliss up and down the Pacific. Showcasing fifty-five key companies, including smaller artisanal roasters like Heart and Kuma as well as the big boys like Peet’s, it traces the cycle of the beans on offer from harvest to market, and explores how each roaster’s nuanced flavors come about. With accompanying illustrations by Alison Berg, Neuschwander has created a coffee compendium that will make East Coasters bitter with coffee envy.
Joe: The Coffee Book
Consistently regarded as one of America’s best coffee bars, and boasting some of its brightest baristas, it’s a pleasant surprise that Joe (headed by siblings Jonathan and Gabrielle Rubenstein) would casually spill the beans on the reasons behind their passion and success. They even share some tricks of the trade for those of us not lucky enough to live within a quick jog. Pack the rest of this read’s pages with insight on growing, buying and the ins and outs of the coffee biz, and you’ve got yourself page turning that’ll continue long after your cup’s empty.