25 October 2014

Review: Coffee Obsession

I have a confession: I love coffee but I don’t drink it. At least, I don’t drink the kind that coffee snobs would approve of. I will have the occasional cup of regular drip-filtered coffee if I’m desperate for caffeine, but what I really like is a rich coffee flavor embedded in milk, sugar, and ice. Lots of ice. My current favourite is Tim’s Iced Capp with a Creamy Caramel flavour shot (addictive).

This time of year I’ve also been known to go for their Pumpkin Spice shot, which happens to be the current subject of mockery of a series of commercials that urge viewers to respect the (coffee) bean. While I think people should have their coffee in whatever form they please (with or without pumpkin), there is something to be said for respecting the bean. DK’s book Coffee Obsession is all about respecting the bean, along with the coffee traditions of cultures around the world. Best of all (for cookbook fanatics like me, anyway): there are recipes. Whether you’re a purist or prefer a little coffee with your milk and sugar, this book is an awesome resource. 

Coffee Obsession features info on the history of coffee; coffees of the world; café culture; species and varieties; growing, harvesting and processing; cupping (the coffee equivalent of wine tasting); choosing and storing your beans; home roasting; equipment; and, of course, making the best possible cup of coffee. There’s even a section on making latte art.

COFFEE FACT: Marsabit is the only area in Kenya where wild Rubiaceae has been found. The study and conservation of the coffee gene pool in these forests will benefit coffee all over the world.

Besides all the information packed into this book, it is visually stunning. DK really does excel at including great photos in all their books, and Coffee Obsession is no exception. There are also tons of illustrations—the book is fun to look at, as well as read.

COFFEE FACT: Guatemala is the 10th largest coffee producer in the world, with about 2.5% of the world market.

Recipes cover everything from the basics (Cappuccino, Mocha, Café au Lait, Americano), to more exotic and creative concoctions (Sassy Molasses, Caffe Touba—Senegalese coffee, Cherry Almond Latte, Ca Phe Sua Da—Vietnamese iced coffee, Espresso Martini). There are also recipes for syrups and flavourings, for those so inclined. As I was looking through the pages of recipes, I got more and more enthused about trying them all. I clearly have some experimenting to do.

COFFEE FACT: Nobody knows exactly how many coffee species there are, but to date, around 124 have been identified—more than double that of just twenty years ago.

One concern I did have with the book was with the editing: just flipping through I immediately noticed “Banana Split” was misspelled as “Spilt.” Besides being annoying, it does raise the concern that there could be bigger mistakes, particularly in the recipes (quantity errors, for example). Hopefully that’s not the case, but when trying recipes, keep an eye out for anything that seems off.

COFFEE FACT: Hawaiian coffees (eg Kona) are some of the most counterfeited in the world.

While Coffee Obsession isn’t exhaustive (and to be fair, it’s unrealistic to expect any book to be), overall it’s a great book on the subject, and a worthy addition to any coffee-lover’s cookbook collection. You’ll find tons of knowledge and inspiration here, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a whole new appreciation for this eternally popular beverage. You might even discover a new favourite way to enjoy your daily fix. DK sent me my copy, but you can get your own here (it’s on sale too). Or, click the badge to see other foodie-friendly books currently on sale:


 Coffee Obsession by DK.

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