Guest Author - Gayle E. Santana
Book Review: Coffee--The Essential Guide to the Essential Bean
Background of the authors:
“Coffee: The Essential guide to The Essential Bean” is written by Catherine Calvert with recipes by Jane Stacey. The Author, Catherine Calvert, was a former features editor for “ Town and Country Magazine”, editor-at-large for “Victoria Magazine”, and author of “Having Tea, Lace” and “The Romance of British Colonial Style”. Jane Stacey, who wrote the recipes in this book, is an accomplished chef, cook and food stylist, and has worked on several books by Martha Stewart.
If with this book in hand, you settle in for a long read with a hot cup of coffee, you had better drink fast. This book is an ambitious endeavor covering a large amount of material in a very short space. With more than half of this book filled with recipes, this leaves only around 60 pages to cover where coffee began, European Traditions, America’s take on it all and a coffee lexicon, not to mention the obligatory photographs.
I can’t say it is a disappointment though because "The Essential Guide" does deliver on its promise giving you a hefty dose albeit quick of being the essential guide to the essential bean. Not only does it include history and traditions, it includes everything you wanted to know about our daily experience like types of grinds, roasts, equipment, storage, making your own blends and a bit about ten of the major coffee growing countries.
Although the book was printed 15 years ago and the story of coffee is certainly always evolving, coffee is also a timeless drink and the book is rich with history, traditions and basic information that is still relevant today.
More than half the book is filled with recipes for coffee drinks, recipes that include coffee and recipes that pair well with coffee--so they say--although some of those recipes and their actual connection with coffee were lost on me. There is no guidance or discussion on this subject and I was disappointed that there weren’t more recipes that included coffee in the list of ingredients.
All in all this book, in spite of its age and shortcomings, still has a permanent place on my book shelf between more the more in depth and the more contemporary offerings I already own as both a reference manual and a recipe book.