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The Joy of Coffee: The Essential Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying - Revised and Updated Paperback – August 19, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If coffee from a can or jar is your idea of purgatory, The Joy of Coffee is the book for you. Its author, Corby Kummer, originally came to the subject of coffee while writing a series of articles for the Atlantic Monthly, and he found so much to say about the bean that he decided to write a book. Kummer began with some basic questions: "What matters most in buying coffee? How can you sort through the jumble of place names and whimsical labels on beans and blends? Is a dark roast better, more sophisticated, than a light roast? Is it essential to grind coffee beans at home?" What he learned in response to these queries comprises the bulk of The Joy of Coffee.

Starting with a tour of a coffee plantation and ending in the reader's own kitchen, Kummer leads a lively and informative discussion of all phases of coffee production, from harvesting to roasting to brewing. He discusses different roasts and the different types of coffeemakers, and he even talks about caffeine consumption and methods of decaffeination that preserve the bean's flavor. At the end of The Joy of Coffee is a chapter chock full of recipes for tasty treats that either go well with coffee or include it as an ingredient. Like a great cup of Joe, The Joy of Coffee is good to the very end. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

With coffee bars springing up on every urban corner, this engrossing guide couldn't arrive at a better moment. Kummer writes on food for the Atlantic very well, thanks, because he injects his own physical experience with his subjects into the exposition. Here, he takes us through the coffee bean's progress from tree to tummy, eyewitness-style. He tells us what it's like to pick coffee because he went and picked it, what it's like to cup coffee (the method by which roasted beans are qualitatively sorted) because he cupped with the pros, what it's like roasting coffee because he tried it at home as well as scrutinized it being done as a business, etc. He analyzes and advises on grinding and brewing methods; he appreciates espresso and its appurtenances; he describes the coffees of different growing countries; he discusses caffeine and its health effects; and then, he wraps the book up with coffee-complementary dessert recipes and a resource section. Kummer's Baedeker of the exquisitely bitter brew is, as the old slogan says, good to the last drop. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Rev Upd Su edition (August 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618302409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618302406
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Like most caffiene addicts I routinely start my day with a cup of coffee. And since the coffee I made at home was never as good as the coffee I could purchase just about anywhere else I would force myself to drive to a nearby coffee shop no matter how inconvenient or expensive this might be.Since I was devoting a great deal of time and money to this quest I decided to purchase Korby Cummer's The Joy of Coffee thinking that the investment would eventually result in a better home brew. Happily, the plan worked.
"Joy" is an incredibly detailed, thorough book which begins with the author traveling to Costa Rica to pick beans and includes descriptions of the various means of roasting, grinding, and and brewing. There is a chapter on Espresso and another chapter examining the health effects of caffeine. The author spends time demystifying coffee terms and compares coffees from around the world. He writes about the advantages and disadvantages of various coffeepots and includes a source guide and a glossary. But the book is not only comprehensive-- the writing is engaging. Mr. Kummer also includes forty tempting recipes. I baked the "marvelous mocha cupcakes" which the author says are "wonderful"-- sorry, but I didn't think they were better than "very good"-- in fairness the comments "scrumptious" and "amazing" were elicited by two of my friends who generously agreed to sample them. They lasted one night. I also baked his "unbeatable biscotti". They were excellent-- very crispy and light-- they lasted two nights. Naturally, I drink them with coffee I brewed from my new pot-- at home.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Brockert on April 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
"The Joy of Coffee" by Corby Kummer, © 1995, 1997, 2003

This is a rather amazing book. Mr. Kummer starts with the growing of the coffee bean, harvesting, and ends up describing the selection of the various beans for blends. The truly interesting part is that there end up being so many beans that are usable, or maybe that is just my reading of it. The beans are so variable coming off the tree, and the processing is so intricate, I was surprised that we actually got some coffee. Another thought was the need for exporting all the quality these countries can. They are so cash poor they have to sell all they can to provide for the economic system. We are sure lucky here to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labors without worrying so much about the money, so far.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Vogel on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I learned a lot from this book about coffee, and it was a very valuable source of information when I recently purchased a new espresso machine.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Holmes on May 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Well, I can honestly say this book has been a God send for me. I knew absolutely nothing about Coffee before this book and drank mostly instant. I got a taste for "real" coffee by frequenting the odd Coffee House with friends. I wanted to know how I could make a delicious drink like those I purchased. Thanks to this book - I now can! This is a very interesting read and takes the reader right through from growing the beans to serving. I have since purchased an Expresso machine and my friends LOVE to have coffee at my house. I am still learning and I have received other tips to improve my brew from other books but I owe my initial success to this book. GREAT for an absolute beginner and I suspect interesting to the more experienced. Thanks Corby! I'm no longer Tea Total :-)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been getting more and more into coffee and espresso drinks in recent years. I've finally started going more specialty coffee as I won't even drink supermarket coffee any more.

Once I started wanting to know more about coffee, I found this book at a used book store. I've been reading it off and on for a while. It is a plethora of coffee information. If you are a relative newbie, this book will give you basic knowledge of almost every aspect of the world of coffee, from its growth and harvesting to making your own wonderful blends of coffee and espresso.

A definite must have book for the coffee rookie turned coffee lover!
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By Xmarc999 on March 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a clear guide to making, buying, and loving coffee. From espresso machines to vacuum pots, this covers the whys and wherefores. Why is Dunkin Donuts the epitome of "East Coast Roasting," and Pete's/Starbucks the champions of "West Coast Roasting"? It's all here. My only wish would be for a newer edition; I would love to see a discussion of the SoftBrew Coffee Maker or the Aeropress (which the author has covered in some New York Times articles).
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Format: Hardcover
The book is excellent and Kummer prose and technical expertise in culinary and beverage field indisputable. However, the 1995 publication is slightly out of date to current technology in the appliance sector for this key, life-style beverage
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