Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World



❄ [EPUB] ✼ Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World By Mark Pendergrast ➝ – E17streets4all.co.uk Uncommon Grounds tells the story of coffee from its discovery on a hill in Abyssinia to its role in intrigue in the American colonies to its rise as a national consumer product in the twentieth centur Uncommon Grounds tells the story of coffee from The History ePUB ↠ its discovery on a hill in Abyssinia to its role in intrigue in the American colonies to its rise Uncommon Grounds: PDF or as a national consumer product in the twentieth century and its rediscovery with the advent of Starbucks at the end of the century A panoramic epic, Uncommon Grounds Grounds: The History eBook ✓ uses coffee production, trade, and consumption as a window through which to view broad historical themes: the clash and blending of cultures, the rise of marketing and the “national brand,” assembly line mass production, and urbanization Coffeehouses have provided places to plan revolutions, write poetry, do business, and meet friends The coffee industry has dominated and molded the economy, politics, and social structure of entire countriesMark Pendergrast introduces the reader to an eccentric cast of characters, all of them with a passion for the golden bean Uncommon Grounds is nothing less than a coffeeflavored history of the world.Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

Mark Pendergrast was born and raised in Atlanta, The History ePUB ↠ Georgia, the fourth of seven children in a family that valued civil rights, the environment, sailing, reading, and games Uncommon Grounds: PDF or of chase and charades He earned a BA in English literature from Harvard, taught high school and elementary school, then went back to Simmons College for a masters Grounds: The History eBook ✓ in library science and worked as an academic librarian—all the w.

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It
    Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It “national brand,” assembly line mass production, and urbanization Coffeehouses have provided places to plan revolutions, write poetry, do business, and meet friends The coffee industry has dominated and molded the economy, politics, and social structure of entire countriesMark Pendergrast introduces the reader to an eccentric cast of characters, all of them with a passion for the golden bean Uncommon Grounds is nothing less than a coffeeflavored history of the world."/>
  • Paperback
  • 504 pages
  • Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
  • Mark Pendergrast
  • English
  • 06 February 2018
  • 9780465054671

10 thoughts on “Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

  1. says:

    I have to give the author credit; it can't have been easy to make coffee soporific. But that's just what Mark Pendergrast has done with Uncommon Grounds!

    Coffee provides one fascinating thread, stitching together the disciplines of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, medicine, and business, and offering a way to follow the interactions that have formed a global economy, he states in the concluding chapter. I totally agree; I think that that would have been a fascinating book. But that is not this book. (Perhaps Pendergrast thinks it is?) I would have loved a history of the (continued) domestication of coffee, a la Michael Pollan's treatment of apples, potatoes, tulips, and marijuana in The Botany of Desire. Unfortunately, Pendergrast really glossed over these aspects, instead focusing on the pricing and advertising of coffee through the ages. I have nothing of the ad-man, businessman, or economist in me, and it completely failed to capture my interest.

    To make matters worse, I really took exception to Pendergrast's voice. It's very easy to appear liberal and enlightened when in comparison with previous generations and I think it's better to avoid potshots at the past. Pendergrast clearly doesn't. Objective journalism this is not. The tone is smugly judgmental. He constantly denigrates past eras for their sexism and racism (primarily in their advertisements, of course) and even for their (atrocious) taste in coffee!

  2. says:

    I'm giving this book only 2 stars due to poor writing and even worse editing. It seems as if after the first 175 pages the editors (feeling the same as I did) got bored reading the manuscript and just sent it to the printers out of exhaustion. This is most evident when you get to the last 50 pages, when we finally learn the most basic facts about the thing we had been reading about for such a painfully long time: coffee's chemical composition, and the scientific facts about caffeine's affect on the body. A high school newspaper editor would have had sense enough to discuss such things in the beginning of the book.

    On the positive side, the book filled in the gaps of what I already knew about how coffee gets into my cup (which wasn't much). It truly was interesting to learn about the Central/South American coffee-producing countries and U.S. involvement in their history - something completely ignored in public school history class.

    But, altogether I was disappointed. My initial excitement over this book waned into an unenthusiastic duty to finish in order to get the damn book back to the library in time before I racked up too many fines.

  3. says:

    THE GOOD: Detailed accounts of the competitive marketing tactics used by coffee companies in America throughout the past hundred plus years, as well as the history of the bean as it influenced coffee producing countries and their export relationships with the United States.

    THE BAD: Writing with a journalistic and not objective historical tone which means the text is replete with the authors anachronistic judgments on everything from what advertisements were sexist to what coffee blends and methods are poor/superior etc..

    Overall, however, I learned a lot. Worth the read even though some of it felt like I was slogging through it.

  4. says:

    Years ago, I'd read a book called The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen, which functioned as a combination travelogue/history of coffee throughout the world, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author traveled throughout Africa and the Middle East meeting unsavory characters and having memorable misadventures (at one point finding himself an art smuggler) while retracing the path coffee took from Eastern Africa through Yemen and the Ottoman Empire through Europe and into the New World.

    I'd worried when I picked up this book, a much more well known work that is often seen as the definitive take on coffee, that it would be redundant; however, the focus is so different that there's very little repetition from Allen's book to this one. In this book, Pendergrast concerns himself primarily with coffee's impact in the United States. There's a little bit about Europe and Africa and a paragraph here and there referring to Asia--including the interesting fact that Vietnam is the world's second leading producer of robusta.

    All told, this is more of a book about big business and economics, in particular the market manipulation in Latin America and the influence of various right-wing and left-wing dictatorships. The book also deals with the rise of the familiar brands: Maxwell House, Folgers, and of course Starbucks. All in all, I preferred Allen's book, but this one is more comprehensive, more exhaustively researched and more suitable as the one book to read about the history of coffee.

  5. says:

    I rarely rated a book less than three stars but I made an exception for this book. The title, 'Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed our World', is totally misleading, not to say deceiving. It is better phrased as 'A History of Cheap Brands of Coffee in the United States of America'. I read this book with the expectation that coffee, as a healthily addictive drink, can unite people of different nationalities with its unique culture. What Mark Pendergrast wrote instead was the coffee of history within America. Perhaps it was not his fault after all but the faults of the hopeless publisher making a totally misplaced title.

  6. says:

    Uncommon Grounds is exactly what I was looking for. I had finished a similar commodity book (Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky) and was blown away. I was hoping for the same experience and am happy to say that I found something similar. The author goes into quite a lot of detail about the origin, trade, branding and questionable medicinal qualities of coffee in a relatively entertaining fashion. It gets a little bogged down at times but overall, Pendergrast succinctly digests coffee's history in a way that is not, for the most part, overwhelmingly dragged down by minutia.

    It's not an amazing book, but for coffee drinkers who are curious about the history and trade of coffee, it is most certainly enlightening. I would have preferred the final chapter to have been the first chapter, and to have more said on the science behind the substances in coffee, but otherwise, it's a good read. A example of the author's start-to-finish style of writing might help to entice possible readers:

    At the Smithsonian conference, I heard a grower ask, “We are shocked and confused that specialty roasters sell our coffee for $8 or $10, when we only receive a little over a dollar a pound. How is that just?” While their U.S. colleagues made sympathetic noises, no one really answered the question.

    Later, a specialty coffee professional gave me an answer. Let us say he pays $2 a pound for Colombian Supremo green beans (and remember that this price can fluctuate). Add 11 cents for freight-in, storage, and handling, 46 cents for the 18 percent weight loss during roasting, 19 cents a pound for roasting, 35 cents to hand-pack in five-pound valve bags for wholesale shipments, and 40 cents for shipping costs. That totals $3.51. Add $2.05 to cover overhead for the roaster/distributor (everything from mortgages and machinery loans to sales commissions, repairs, and rubbish removal) and profit, and it costs $5.56 to deliver roasted coffee to a specialty retailer. Depending on the retailer’s size, rent, and other overhead costs, he or she must then charge between $9.50 and $11.50 a pound to make a reasonable profit.

    If the roasted beans go to a coffeehouse outlet, the proprietor converts the $5.56 per pound beans into a twelve-ounce regular coffee at $1.75 or cappuccino or latte for $2.50 or more. If the proprietor gets twenty-four servings to the pound, that translates to a whopping $70 a pound for regular filter coffee, and $82.50 a pound for thirty-three lattes, minus the cost of the milk, stirrer, sweetener, and stale discarded coffee. On the other hand, coffeehouse owners have to pay astronomical rents, shell out $18,000 for a top-of-the line espresso machine, and allow customers to linger for long, philosophical conversations or solitary reading over their single cup of coffee.

  7. says:

    This is an interesting look at all the political and economic forces that interacted with perhaps the most influential beverage of our time. Anecdotes about the trajectories of the coffee industry in the 19th and 20th centuries are where this book shone the most for me. The author has clearly done enormous research and offers up juicy tidbits about the cereal-coffee wars instigated by E.W. Post (of General Foods Post Cereal fame) for example. Stories of the first women coffee-baronesses and the rampant sexism they faced, were also fascinating. Where the book suffers is by trying to be too ambitious. A few mild criticisms.

    1. Transformed our world in the title. Really? The book references to Latin America are confined strictly to areas where the economics and marketing collided or coincided with American interests. Ethiopia, Kenya and other African coffee giants elicit passing mention at best. A marketing and economic history of the coffee industry in the U.S. or something like it would be more apt.

    2. It was very hard to find central themes or takeaways from a sweeping narrative . I found myself struggling to summarize every chapter in my mind. The final chapter was excellent in terms of offering a macro- look at the future of coffee and its likely impacts but the rest of the book is essentially stream-of-consciousness. Not a bad thing necessarily but something to be aware of.

    3. This book could have used some more brutal editing. Forcing central themes and tighter academic style writing would have cut the intimidating length by 25%. Of course, that style of writing would have cut by review length by 50%! :-)

    Still a recommended read for lovers and haters of the brew alike.

  8. says:

    I confess that I tried; I tried to sit ddown and read the history of coffee, and it was just too much. Too much history, and too much information to absorb. It's a wonderful book, but overwhelming.

  9. says:

    I just could not get in to this book. Abandoned at 50%.

  10. says:

    If you want an in depth, detailed look at the history of coffee, this is a great book to pick up. From its discovery in Africa, to how it became the second largest export in the world (with oil being the first); from plantation to cup, and everything in between, this book covers it all. It even describes the evolution of brewing techniques and instant coffees, weaving the history of coffee in with the history of world.


    I work in the coffee industry as mostly a barista. I picked up this book in the hopes to learn a bit more about what I was serving to people, and possibly get a nice foundation for if I'm ever able to break into writing for CoffeeHouse Digest. I must admit, I got a lot more than I expected with this book. Did you know that in early history of the middle east, a woman could initiate a divorce, if her husband did not have enough coffee in the household? I certainly didn't.


    My one complaint, and the reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5, is that this book is very America Centric. Not just the U.S., but South America as well. That is not to say that id doesn't cover the rest of the world. It does, and in great detail. But the concentration is on the U.S. and Central/South America. Here's an example: somewhere in the first half of the book, the author spends a great deal of time speaking of pre-depression era coffee consumption in the U.S., then mentions in the last paragraph of the section how Germany at that time was actually the leader in coffee drinking countries. But he doesn't spend nearly the amount of time on that as he does in the U.S.


    Granted, I don't know a whole lot about the history of coffee in other countries, so maybe there isn't that much to tell. However, given how intricate and complex the story of coffee is in the States, my impression is that a lot was missing in Pendergrast's account of coffee in other parts of the world. Other than that one tiny complaint - and believe me, the wonderfulness of the book (and its sizable length) do make the complaint a tiny one - I thought this was a great and informative read.

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