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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars12
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 25 April 2014
I bought this to get an understanding of the history of coffee, where it came from, how it evolved etc. and also to understand more about coffee itself. I found the beginning and the end very interesting but the middle was a dead zone. It talks at length about coffee advertising wars in the 19th and 20th centuries, the coffee tycoons, trade wars and subsidies. A bit on this would have been welcome but it's way too much detail and too American focused. He mainly ignores Europe apart from little asides here and there. The tone is quite dry and academic but he seems to lighten up at the end when he talks about the Fair Trade movement and Starbucks - this is where his passion is. Saying that I did learn a lot about coffee and feel the wiser now, and a lot of satisfaction when I finally finished!
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on 18 June 2013
It looks at the subject purely from the USA, which was disappointing as a UK reader, however some interesting content
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on 24 January 2015
I should have read more of the customer reviews on here before purchasing this book, as it in no way lives up to its subtitle, "the history of coffee and how it changed the world". "The history of coffee in the US" would have been more appropriate, since the rest of the world is given very little attention, while the growth of the American coffee industry is laid out in excruciating detail. For a Europan reader, the bulk of the book is just irrelevant.
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on 30 January 2012
This book assumes you don't know what the word guano means and you are incapable of using a dictionary. So one example among the many bits of the book that are maybe pitched at too low a reading level for the US audience - skip the long rambling bit in the middle about the US coffee advertising in the 30s and 40s, nothing of interest there. Its flaw is its geocentric bias but someone obviously mentioned this to him at some point as after the huge swathes of guff about Folgers or something there'll be a morsel about Germany or Peru something squashed on the end of the chapter. You'd be surprised Nestle even existed, that tiny little European coffee supplier. Otherwise, it was an ok read, it's most definitely not challenging, bits of it are interesting.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 August 2015
Mark Prendergrast has got a good record as an author and this book is no exception. It's somewhat US-centric, although given the global reach of subjects as various American jazz and Starbucks, both of which feature, that isn't a huge problem given the topic. It covers the full range of the coffee story - production, trade and drinking - and features many lively and eccentric characters on the way. This all makes for a good solid history of the topic.
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on 27 June 2014
Recipient seemed pleased with the book, plenty of information about the new hobby and was looking forward to trying out allt he different coffees from around the world.
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on 3 September 2014
Fascinating study of coffee from a global perspective, but with focus on the USA. I look forward to more such studies on the subject.
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on 21 April 2016
An enjoyable read for a coffee fan. Not a very taxing read but well written and engaging.
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on 6 June 2012
I was after a book which would give a bit of guidance to my coffee drinking. With this in mind, I bought the wrong book. Uncommon Grounds goes into great detail on the economics behind the coffee trade since the 17th Century. It also describes the careers and fortunes of trailblazing coffee entrepreneurs and the big coffee companies. This bored me. I wanted to know the difference between the types of bean, roasts, etc, and I was left wanting. To end on a positive, if an economic history of coffee is what you're after then this seems very detailed (hence the 3 stars).
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on 22 June 2012
My first coffee book.. And it is an astonishing read... You would not believe the level of detail and effort put on this single 480 page book.. A must for coffee lovers.. As a barista in a major coffee chain here in the UK I must say that the level of knowledge I have acquired from this single book surpasses by light years the one provided to us by the company. Is it worth the £12.59? YES! will be reading this again and again for years to come...
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