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Coffee - Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444337122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444337129
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This is not going to be an impulse buy or something to necessarily give to that special coffee-lover in your life, but if you take the time to examine the book with an open, curious mind it might be something that can keep you company with, of course, a good cup of something during a long journey.”  (, 2012)

"A delightful book for philosophically minded coffee drinkers ... Philosophically minded coffee drinkers will find the contents of their cup enhanced by the contents of the book." (Network Review, 1 June 2011)

"And so, the book devotes itself to coffee and philosophy from varied perspectives, some seemingly frivolous, and others deeply analytical . . . I suspect that the book will appeal most to coffee devotees who enjoy lively conversation and see the world, as well as that black liquid in their cups, from a dialectical point of view." (Metapsychology, 9 August 2011)

"Grounds for Debate is a fantastic read-providing insights into the coffee culture that even a tea drinker can appreciate. The collection encourages readers to consider their relationship to larger social practices that have resounding effects on daily life." (Anthropology in Practice, 30 June 2011)

"This may possibly be the most unusual coffee book you will read. Instead of just the usual history of
it, this is the latest in a long series of titles written by philosophicalheavyweights, discussing subjects
from Christmas to cycling." (Boughton's Coffee House magazine, 1 March 2011)

"In interesting, educational, and often funny selections, we learn facts both surprising (most coffee farmers and people living in coffee-growing regions have no idea why anyone would want to drink the stuff) and rudimentary. . . this is more sociology than philosophy, but a smattering of deep (enough) thoughts from the likes of Hume, Bourdieu, Kant, and others will keep true addicts--of both coffee and philosophy--stimulated". (Publishers Weekly, 18 April 2011)

"The book - a part of the Philosophy for Everyone series - takes on all sides of the debate, historical and contemporary, over coffee's meritstates." (Jezebel, ,14 April 2011)

"The book will also stimulate those seeking to understand the aesthetics and ethics of coffee." (The Guardian, 14 April 2011)

"A varied compilation of musings on the beverage that has hooked countless people since its discovery in the 15th century by Ethiopian Sufi monks. The authors ... take on the history, taste and ethics of coffee in 18 essays likely to elicit much dialogue and debate. The book also includes engaging discussions of caffeine's classification as a drug, the emergence of green coffee and the evolution of the coffehouse into a public forum. A blend of humor and thought-provoking content guaranteed to stimulate readers' intellect." (Kirkus Reviews, March 2011)

"In this addition to an accessible and substantive series, 18 new essays, with coffee and coffee culture as their shared theme, relay the relationship between the coffee-related contemporary and everyday and the ideas and ideals on which the history of formal philosophy has been built. Recommended for coffee and philosophy aficionados. This entry in the series may well also be of interest for book discussion groups." (Library Journal, March 2011)

From the Back Cover

With more than 400 billion cups consumed worldwide every year, there is much to discuss philosophically about one of the world's most popular drinks. Essays by journalists, philosophers, coffee insiders, and coffee aficionados offer a penetrating analysis of coffee and its surrounding culture. Featured writers include Mark Pendergrast, coffee expert Kenneth Davids, and the Coffee Bean Guys James Kirkland and Dan Levy. Plus an interview with Matt Lounsbury of Stumptown Coffee.

Enjoy the philosophical aroma as the book offers fascinating discussions on topics such as:

  • The ethics involved in coffee growth
  • Caffeine as performance-enhancing drug
  • The centrality of the coffeehouse to the public sphere
  • Just how good can a cup of coffee be?

Coffee - Philosophy for Everyone kick-starts the day with an entertaining but critical discussion of the ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and culture of the world of coffee.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on June 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is one of the many "Philosophy for Everyone" series published by Wiley-Blackwell which include interesting titles as "Porn", "Beer and Philosophy", "Motherhood and Philosophy", and many others. The subtitles are sure to draw a smile from the reader. "Porn"'s is "How to Think with Kink", and the other two I mentioned are: "The Unexamined Beer is not Worth drinking", and "The Birth of Wisdom" respectively. The present title under review is subtitled, "Grounds for debate" and edited by Scott Parker and Michael Austin. The contributors were eminently qualified to write about coffee and although not all of them have studied philosophy, it would be fair to say that they have their own philosophical viewpoints on this brown bean that is so loved around the world. One of the contributors, Kenneth Davids, the editor of "Coffee Review" provides a quick lesson on the types of coffee beans, the difference between the more expensive "Arabica" and the less expensive "Robusto" and how one compares The cream of the crop "Esmeralda" with the high end "Starbucks" and the low end "Red Brand X". This short chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Bramucci and Mulholland in "More than 27 Cents a Day" talks about the economic fairness in the coffee trade, and what is "fair" to the small farmholder. Kristopher Philips wrote a chapter that answers philosophical questions: "What is it like to be a philosopher of coffee", and "Why the unexamined cup is not worth drinking". John Hartmann has a lot to say about Starbucks, noting that it is the largest purchaser of fair trade coffee, explains why it is not doing enough, and where coffee joints like Starbucks can go from here. These are just samplings. Every chapter is short and aromatic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Ulrich on August 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a coffee drinker since before I probably should have been. When I saw this book I realized I probably didn't know much about the beverage I enjoy daily, and decided to have Amazon send it my way. I haven't read any of the other books in the series (that may change now), but the book revolves around the Philosophy of Coffee, and numerous writers take that concept in numerous different directions. Whether that direction offers insights into coffee itself, such as what it is made of and how it tastes; to the social impact of coffee, from the coffee industry to the transformation of the coffee house; to the effects of coffee, both as a stimulant and as a habit; and to coffee's philosophy, both applying philosophy to coffee, and applying coffee to philosophy. This book is sure to get you thinking (perhaps differently) about your cup of Joe, and offers insight into many different aspects of something millions of people take for granted.
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By I. Darren on May 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
Put two or more people around a table with a cup of coffee (or something similar) in their hands and a debate can ensue, it can range from daily events to deep philosophical matters. But how often is coffee itself the subject of a deeper discussion?

Through this book coffee is the central theme from start to finish, presented through a series of thought-provoking essays and opinions that cover the entire gamut of coffee-related matters. The first essay is the curiously-named "Coffee: Black Puddle Water or Panacea?" and that sets the tone as one goes forward.

This is not an uncritical "rah! rah!" book for coffee. That would be too simple. Criticism and scrutiny looks at issues such as coffee trade ethics, the role of the coffee house in society, the aesthetics of coffee and the place of chains such as Starbucks. One may say, truthfully with a smile on the face, that to read this book you will need a strong cup of coffee or three. It is quite hard-going and written in a thought-provoking, analytical manner and it should not be confused with a general "world of coffee culture"-style book as that will lead to disappointment.

Like many books of this genre you will either "get it" or not. But maybe that is the point also as you have to listen to a possible counter-argument and even if you concede some points and accept some viewpoints your overall position might remain constant. Or not. It is not necessary to read from cover-to-cover as each essay is an entity in its own right. This is not going to be an impulse buy or something to necessarily give to that special coffee-lover in your life, but if you take the time to examine the book with an open, curious mind it might be something that can keep you company with, of course, a good cup of something during a long journey.

You might even find a few more points for discussion.
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