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3Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World

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  • CLS
    Aug 27, 2003
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      Since its discovery in an Ethiopian rainforest centuries ago, coffee
      has brewed up a rich and troubled history, according to Uncommon
      Grounds, a sweeping book by business writer Mark Pendergrast. Over
      the years, the beverage has fomented revolution, spurred
      deforestation, enriched a few while impoverishing the many, and
      addicted millions with its psychoactive caffeine. Coffee is now the
      world's second most valuable legal commodity, behind oil, according
      to Pendergrast, who is also author of For God, Country, and Coca-Cola.
      "A good cup of coffee can turn the worst day tolerable, can provide
      an all-important moment of contemplation, can rekindle a romance," he
      writes. "And yet, poetic as its taste may be, coffee's history is
      rife with controversy and politics." For example, coffee bankrolled
      Idi Amin's genocidal regime in Uganda and the Sandinistas' revolution
      in Nicaragua. Uncommon Grounds provides some fascinating tidbits. Did
      you know that coffeehouses helped spawn the French and American
      revolutions? Or that coffee supplanted alcohol as a favorite
      breakfast drink in Britain in the late 1600s, and later became a
      patriotic American beverage after the Boston Tea Party? Pendergrast
      also details the rise and fall of regional coffee brands in the
      United States, the role of advertising in the industry, the global
      economic impact of coffee prices, and the recent emergence of
      specialty-coffee retailers--Starbucks, for example. Finally, he
      explores the social and environmental ramifications of coffee and
      highlights recent attempts to encourage a livable wage and
      environmental protection in coffee-producing nations such as Brazil.
      Pendergrast also includes an appendix on "how to brew the perfect
      cup." This wide-ranging book is a good read for those curious about
      the history and context behind that morning cup of coffee, as well as
      for those strictly interested in the business side of the industry. --
      Dan Ring --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.