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3.9 out of 5 stars19
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 2 October 2000
Take 500 years of history, thousands of miles worth of precarious travelling, a bundle of religious fanatics, a gaggle of politics, a spoonful of war and some cake, mix it all up with some strange berries and an obsessive american in an enormous cup-shaped er...big cup and what you get is: The Devil's Cup by Stewart Lee Allen.
It's a bit of a novel, a bit of a travel book and a bit of a history book. Wrapped in a beautifully simple dust jacket, protecting a cunningly simple embossed hard cover. It's a pungent read and will even look good on your...er...whatsit table.
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on 14 March 2006
A great read, particularly in its sections on Africa (the place about which Stewart Lee Allen is most respectful and passionate) and its pivotal role in the history of coffee. Allen is entertaining, adventurous, fun-loving, and never takes himself too seriously. Although I disagree with his claim that a certain global coffee chain serves good coffee and although some sections work better than others - Allen seems to be running out of steam towards the end, as though his mission has exhausted even him - and although the editing of the text could be better at times... these are essentially small niggles in what is a five-star read. I learned a lot from this book, which made me want to drink even more coffee than I do already, and I would entirely agree with the chef and writer Anthony Bourdain that reading it is a "riveting" experience. Would make a lovely present for anyone who loves coffee.
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on 31 October 2003
If you love coffee, then you will be interested in reading this funny, informative,entertaining book.
Stewart Lee Allen considers coffee to have played an essential part in human civilisation and progress.He calls it "Driving force" for human history.It may seem exagerated but he doesn`t merely stays by words. He takes a world journey to show how coffee has appeared in various societies and what was its impact on people. He will take you from Ethiopia through India,Turkey,England, France and finally, back to his home in Oklahoma, US.
The book is full with interesting information about coffee, its roasting and making, about rituals for drinking it, and at the same time it will amuse you with a lot of travel stories, misunderstandings and gaffs, unevitable in communication between different cultures.
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on 22 March 2001
Mr Lee Allen's "The Devil's Cup" is as satisfying as the brew it celebrates. At once both intoxicating with heady drama and hi-jinx in pursuit of the holy grail of the 'mugga joe' and stimulating with a fascinating account of coffee's journey from Ethiopia to Adrien, Texas. Lee Allen's crusade (and I mean this in the religious sense) is testament to coffee's significance across cultures, time zones and history. From its use as a stimulant of spiritual fervour to its role in enlightening modern thought and philosophy , Lee Allen ensures that the next espresso to infiltrate my blood-brain barrier will be infused the meaning of its significance since time god knows when.
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on 24 August 2010
This books falls badly between two stools. As a history of coffee's spread through the world and its effects on society it offers little more than a few potted histories. As a road trip memoir it also offers little beyond the author's clumsy attempts to smuggle forged art out of India and his wanderings round East Africa.

The final section, where the author and his companion attempt a road trip across America is the final insult to the reader. We learn little from this except not to mix ephedrine and caffeine. Finally, the book's conclusion is abrupt and feels as though the author had simply run out of ideas.

If you want to learn about the history of coffee you will learn more from Wikipedia. If you want a road trip memoir then Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is still to be bettered.
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I had never heard of this book before and as I was looking for something to read, my girlfriend suggested to read this "coffee book", which she had received as a present at some point. From just glancing at it, it did not seem very interesting - history of coffee?! Does not seem like a very exciting topic. But I decided to take the risk of wasting a few hours. After the first chapter, I was hooked! The author has an amazing skill of jumping from story to story smoothly and throwing in interesting historical to boot. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something interesting and different to read.
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on 6 January 2015
Seldom has a drink seemed to dominate culture as dramatically as coffee.

It has been discovered, banned, popularised and promoted and this book covers its history and then takes you on a whirlwind tour around the world in search of its meaning.

Well written and engaging, the book takes you through many countries, societies and customs to enlightenment, via research, history and travel on many modes of transport.

Read it and enjoy your next cup of Java with even more richness.
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on 24 April 2013
This book is the one to buy if you're looking for a detailed examination of coffee and it's stimulating influence on society. Part travel book, part historical account, Stuart Lee Allen's personality gives the book its own welcome boost. If it doesn't make you want a cup of the Devil's brew then there must be something wrong with you!
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on 19 November 2013
Easy to read, but was expecting much more from the positive reviews it got, not much substance, a lot of irrelavant stories which would be fine for a backpackers travelogue. It missed decent research, and nothing on modern coffee industry... I just wish I got more.
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on 21 April 2016
A must read for any coffee fan. Not the most academic treatment of the subject and nothing in here that is going to come as a huge shock to a fan of the subject but it is very nicely written and a good read while working though a pot of strong coffee.
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