Roast Review: A Biography of the Bean in ‘The Birth of Coffee’
A simple cup of coffee: Millions of people greet the morning, take a break, or end a meal with this dark brew. In these brief moments, coffee’s rich flavor and deep aroma are simple pleasures unquestioningly accepted, although few of us ever consider the origins of this evermore popular beverage.
Yet 25 million people wake up thinking about coffee, not simply as a part of their morning routine, but as the whole of their workday. In The Birth of Coffee, Daniel Lorenzetti and Linda Rice Lorenzetti explore coffee’s profound impact on people in coffee-growing nations. Spanning four continents, the Lorenzettis’ eloquent text and evocative photographs capture the places where coffee is more than a popular beverage, but a force in politics, economics, and history.
From the cloud-covered farms in Colombia to the rugged mountains of Indonesia and the bustling markets of Yemen, the Lorenzettis find themselves in landscapes dominated by the coffee industry: roads lined with beans, trails to distant fields, and wild forests of coffee trees. But the business of coffee easily flows from the fields to all aspects of life: For the people in these photographs, life too is steeped in an industry dependent on nature. Like the slow brewing of its final product, the business of coffee and the life of its workers have remained remarkably unchanged for centuries.
Despite the big business behind them, coffee often comes to us from small farms where little mechanization is used. Where fields teeming with coffee trees spring from the mountainous landscape, the process of raising, picking, sun-drying, and sorting coffee beans requires a dexterous and vigilant workforce. As the Lorenzettis observe, by the time a coffee bean is on its way to port, it has moved through dozens of hands.
The Birth of Coffee examines brown gold’s impact in Ethiopia, Yemen, Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Kenya, accompanied by 100 duotone photographs that Daniel Lorenzetti toned with actual coffee. This startling book will strike readers with the beauty and substance of the worlds and peoples behind a simple cup of coffee.