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The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee (1999)

af Stewart Lee Allen

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4521442,462 (3.57)26
In this captivating book, Stewart Lee Allen treks three-quarters of the way around the world on a caffeinated quest to answer these profound questions: Did the advent of coffee give birth to an enlightened western civilization? Is coffee, indeed, the substance that drives history? From the cliffhanging villages of Southern Yemen, where coffee beans were first cultivated eight hundred years ago, to a cavernous coffeehouse in Calcutta, the drinking spot for two of India's three Nobel Prize winners . . . from Parisian salons and caf#65533;s where the French Revolution was born, to the roadside diners and chain restaurants of the good ol' U.S.A., where something resembling brown water passes for coffee, Allen wittily proves that the world was wired long before the Internet. And those who deny the power of coffee (namely tea-drinkers) do so at their own peril.… (mere)
  1. 20
    A History of the World in 6 Glasses af Tom Standage (CD1am)
  2. 10
    The Empire of Tea af Alan Macfarlane (John_Vaughan)
  3. 10
    The Cacahuatl Eater: Ruminations of an Unabashed Chocolate Addict af Jonathan Ott (libron)
    libron: Ott is a boisterous and meticulous writer; this is his paean to chocolate as a food of the gods. Allen's gonzo erudition is a riot to read; this is his manifesto cum history of coffee.
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Beginning in the Ethiopian city of Harrar, the author travels throughout Africa, into India, Turkey, Austria, France and South America, all to follow the path of the coffee plant and its many variations. He tracks down the descendant of the man who may have created the first coffee plantation, is present for a spiritual coffee ritual in Ethiopia, travels through Yemen and witnesses the widespread addiction to a plant called qat, and attends a rare performance by whirling dervishes in Konya. He also traces the roots of various coffee varieties and the people who were instrumental in making coffee a worldwide beverage.
Allen is an American adventurer, a man who is so besotted with the romance of adventure that he's fearless and pretty much rendered incapable of saying no, whether helping an art forger or in becoming a human smuggler (he dropped out only because the plan was too disorganized). The book was first published in 1999, and the world has changed enough in that short amount of time that his adventures would be so much more difficult, if not impossible, today. His travels are fascinating, both for the history and the people he meets. If you enjoy something like Around the World in 80 Days, you'd probably like this sort-of non-fiction version that is absolutely crammed with places you've never heard of before. ( )
  mstrust | Apr 15, 2020 |
This is partly a book about coffee, its history, and its effects on the world, and partly a slightly disjointed travelogue in which the author traipses around five different continents visiting coffee-related places and doing various more or less coffee-related things.

I liked one of these two things considerably better than the other. The facts about and musings on coffee and its place in history were interesting, entertainingly written, and generally pretty fun. But the account of the author's travels, which involved a lot of doing stupid and occasionally illegal things, often left me shaking my head a bit and thinking, "Who is this guy, and why am I reading about his dumb adventures, again?" ( )
  bragan | Nov 23, 2019 |
A fun enough romp. Ping-pongs between the history of coffee consumption and the wild adventures of the author. The wild adventures do give us some pictures of places connected with coffee somehow or other. Ethiopia and Yemen, that's easy. Calcutta and Oklahoma, less easy. OK, the ping-pong ball does jump around and test the boundaries! But we do hear along the way about some key events in the history of coffee. The siege of Vienna by the Ottomans, for example. And the various attitudes about coffee along the way. It's a fun way to learn some history. ( )
  kukulaj | Jun 27, 2014 |
This book had me craving a cup of good coffee after I finished reading! While it was a bit confusing to understand at times, overall I enjoyed the coffee history mixed with travelogue misadventures and the inveterate good cheer of Allen. Definitely worth reading. ( )
  jennorthcoast | Nov 18, 2013 |
Entertaining history / travelogue of coffee. I'm entirely unsure whether to believe even half of it is true, and I'm deeply disappointed in the author's final conclusion - but then I'm a coffee snob, not a comfort drinker. Nonetheless - a very amusing read. ( )
  imyril | May 29, 2013 |
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In this captivating book, Stewart Lee Allen treks three-quarters of the way around the world on a caffeinated quest to answer these profound questions: Did the advent of coffee give birth to an enlightened western civilization? Is coffee, indeed, the substance that drives history? From the cliffhanging villages of Southern Yemen, where coffee beans were first cultivated eight hundred years ago, to a cavernous coffeehouse in Calcutta, the drinking spot for two of India's three Nobel Prize winners . . . from Parisian salons and caf#65533;s where the French Revolution was born, to the roadside diners and chain restaurants of the good ol' U.S.A., where something resembling brown water passes for coffee, Allen wittily proves that the world was wired long before the Internet. And those who deny the power of coffee (namely tea-drinkers) do so at their own peril.

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