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Uncommon Grounds Unknown Binding – May 1, 2000

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Unknown Binding, May 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group (May 1, 2000)
  • ASIN: B001IAJ7FU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,631,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am the author of six books of critically acclaimed non-fiction. The latest is JAPAN'S TIPPING POINT: CRUCIAL CHOICES IN THE POST-FUKUSHIMA WORLD, a short book on a huge topic. Can Japan radically shift its energy policy, become greener, more self-sufficient, and avoid catastrophic impacts on the climate? In the post-Fukushima era, Japan is the "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the world. I arrived in Japan exactly two months after the Fukushima meltdown. This book is the account of my trip and my alarming conclusions. INSIDE THE OUTBREAKS, is a history of the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service. The others are UNCOMMON GROUNDS, the history of coffee, FOR GOD, COUNTRY & COCA-COLA, the history of the soft drink, MIRROR MIRROR, a history of mirrors, and VICTIMS OF MEMORY, a book about so-called recovered memories. One critic called me "the ultimate freelance journalist with an eclectic mind." I suppose he meant that I write about whatever interests me. I prefer to call myself an independent scholar, since my books are heavily researched. I joke that I should have earned an honorary Ph.D for each of them in their respective subjects. What my books all have in common is that they cover subjects that matter. In my small way, I hope to make the world a somewhat saner, safer place. I'm not sure if my children's book, JACK AND THE BEAN SOUP, will make the world a better place, but I hope it makes it a bit more humorous. The book is a fractured fairytale -- basically, an elaborate fart joke, though it does explain how evil came to the earth and the origin of thunder! I live in Vermont with my wife and dog, and I like to hear from readers. For more information on my books, see

Customer Reviews

This was the reason I bought this book.
Mike Beri
Pendergrast does a good job of sprinkling in tidbits of facts throughout the book without bogging down.
Craig Clotfelter
If you have a yen for coffee, grab an espresso and read this book.
Sebastian Good

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 122 people found the following review helpful By "michaeleve" on March 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for something light that offers some tips for tasters or a cultural history on some of the exotic places that coffee is grown, or even an appropriate book for your coffee table, I suggest you look elsewhere. This book is none of that. This book is pretty narrow in focus and limits itself to discussions on the history of coffee growing and the business end of the industry. Topics covered include trading, marketing and distribution, consumption patterns, the emergence of cafe's and big coffeehouses, and the social, environmental, and political issues in both the producing and consuming nations. As with so many recently published books this one suffers from a pop-culture sounding title which is deliberately eye-catching, but misleading with its grandiose claim. These titles work best with popular science books about arcane subjects that changed the world set in stories about eccentric heroes and villains. I enjoy those books but this is a different book. This serious work is more referrence book than story. Don't get me wrong though. UNCOMMON GROUNDS: THE HISTORY OF COFFEE AND HOW IT TRANSFORMED OUR WORLD is too well written and has enough anecdotes to provide the "latte" for what could otherwise have been simply a dark and thick text-book.
One of the issues that Pendergrast focuses on is the stark social contrasts between where coffee is grown and the markets where it is consumed. As we read on it becomes very apparent that for Pendergrast, researching this book was part moral lesson. He pays special attention to issues of economic justice and makes us see some of coffee's story in this light. He says coffee "laborers earn an average of $3 a day. Most live in abject poverty without plumbing, electricity, medical care, or nutritious foods".
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Good on November 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It's not everyday you find a five hundred page book on the history of coffee. But then again, most coffee fans take their jobs quite seriously. Author Mark Pendergast has chronicled ups and downs of this remarkable commodity on an unprecedented scale. He takes us from the discovery of the bean in the hills of Ethiopia all the way to the despicable excesses of Starbucks. The first few chapters of this book take us on a jaunty trip through coffee's early history, including the ruthless and colorful European traders who were responsible for introducing the Western world to the bizarre beverage. Pendergast, a businessman by education, then settles into a wonderfully readable economic history. The structure of the material centers on the companies and international agreements that make up the international coffee system. But unlike so many commercially-oriented histories, Uncommon Grounds is eminently readable and captivating. The characters in the saga are fascinating: from American industrialists to Latin American peasants to African warlords to European consumers, there are people involved in this story, not just money. If you have a yen for coffee, grab an espresso and read this book. You won't find weighty theories on how coffee forms the basis of all human history, rather a fun, a caffeine-inspired trip through modernity with java-tinted glasses. --
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Donald Schoenholt on November 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Uncommon Grounds is the best history of coffee and the coffee trade to be published in English in over three-quarters of a century.
Mark Pendergrast has provided both to the casual reader and the coffee professional a perspective on the history of coffee and the coffee trade that has the ring of truth.
Pendergrast has not bothered the reader with myths of goatherds and mullahs, but focuses on the documented true story with the adventure and lure of fortune to be found in the brown gold that is coffee. We can sense the anguish and torment of peon and slave, and feel the silk-shirted personalities of the 19th Century robber barrons who created the great coffee fortunes. We cry with the Central American farmers, and cheer on the fledgling specialty coffee roaster/pioneers of the 1970's who created the new coffee business which heralded the myriad of consumer coffee choices of today.
The reader is swept along with the flow of history, as it is paralleled in the telling of coffee's fortunes and the fortunes of the men and businesses who have pursued it's financial promise. By the last chapter Mark Pendergrast has our cup running over with knowledge and understanding. Uncommon Grounds' text, authoritativly annotated and footnoted, brings coffee into sharp focus, warts and all. The picture is clear, well textured and on balance, an appealing and fascinating one. Uncommon Grounds, by Mark Pendergrast is sure to be enjoyed by the coffee lover on your gift list.
The reviewer, a professional roaster/cupper is Gourmet Specialties Editor @ Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, founded in 1902, the oldest and most esteemed trade organ serving the international coffee community.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Rampey on June 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World, Mark Pendergrast traces the commercial, political, and social impact of the bean from its mythical discovery by an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi to its modern vacuum-packed ubiquity. Pendergrast does best when describing the coffee-drinking habits of populations around the world down through history. Also of great interest are the sections illustrating the impetus that the coffee trade provided empire-building nations during the age of colonialism. Some of the strongest sections of the book deal with the role of the coffee trade in Cold War and contemporary U.S. foreign policy. Pendergrast also devotes ample attention to the social and environmental effects of the cultivation of coffee in the countries where it is grown. The text only lags a bit, however, during the long accounts of relatively mundane business maneuvers by various U.S. companies attempting to gain market supremacy. There is a useful appendix illustrating how to brew "the perfect cup" of coffee.
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