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Book Review- The Philosophy of Coffee By Brian Williams

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Over a year ago, a fellow coffee blogger and friend of mine, Brian Williams, sent me a copy of his book, The Philosophy of Coffee. It was my intention to read it and feature it in a post before the book became available in the U.S. (September 2018) but, alas, time does have a way of slipping through one’s grasp. Here we are, mid April 2019, and I wanted to let my readers know about the book and, if you have not found his blog yet, Brian himself. 

Brian Williams, author of the blog Brian’s Coffee Spot, published a book with The British Library early last year. The Philosophy of Coffee is a concise volume giving an overview and introduction to coffee. 

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. They boast a collection of over 150 million items in all sorts of mediums. You can check out their website to browse their digital collection. You can also find a few books of a similar breadth and format from the British Library such as The Philosophy of Beards.

The Philosophy of Coffee is a handsome, baby blue hardcover book, featuring a Moka Pot on the font and the spine (it looks quite charming sitting on the shelf next to my other coffee literature). It is very reasonably priced and would make a great gift, especially with the addition of a bag of quality craft coffee.  

This volume clocks in at about one hundred pages total and is an enjoyable, easy read. The content spans from coffees fabled origins with Kaldi’s goats to coffee in the modern era. It also contains several black and white illustrations from the British Library archives. There are two brief appendices—one that champions the subtle flavors in craft coffee and one discussing some coffee brewing essentials. 

As someone who is quite interested in all things coffee (I have read quite a few books on the subject), I found The Philosophy of Coffee to be the perfect primer of coffee’s relatively short history. This book is not nearly as all encompassing (nor does it claim to be) as say, Pendergrast’s Uncommon Grounds (a 480 page ‘encyclopedia’ that examines the minutiae of coffee’s history) but it gives an excellent and succinct summary of coffee’s debut and rise to popularity. It can be read in an afternoon and is more than sufficient to give a grasp on coffee history. There are also some nods to coffee processing, brewing and coffee house culture.

I enjoyed Brian’s brief insights on coffee culture. You will seldom find a more enthusiastic coffee lover than Brian and his globetrotting status makes him the perfect candidate to discuss current coffee culture around the world. 

If you haven’t perused Brian’s Coffee Spot, I would recommend checking it out. Over the last five or six years, Brian has amassed an impressive collection of coffee shop reviews from all over the world (including commentary on the cake offerings). Brian is also one of the most engaging and friendly coffee personas out there. He is happy to answer questions, give opinions on coffee subjects (he is most active on his Twitter account) and regularly attends and chronicles some of the UK’s premier coffee events like the London Coffee Festival

Despite living on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Brian and I have actually had the opportunity to meet up. A few years ago, he was in my area and we were able to drink some coffee and enjoy a morning of conversation on a diverse range of topics (coffee and beyond). 

The Philosophy of Coffee is an informative, quick and fun read. It is well organized and will get you up to speed on where coffee came from (there is even some speculation about where it is going). Brian’s enthusiasm for coffee shows in his writing and I am happy to add his book to the shelves of my library. 

Cheers to my readers! It has been awhile since I published a post. What is your favorite book about coffee?


  1. mark

    Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
    by Mark Pendergrast

  2. coffeelovers094

    Great Philosophy shared by Brian Williams. People who like coffee should go through this book at least once.

  3. Dreamy Bean

    I read with interest your review on the philosophy of coffee for coffee lovers which is quite comprehensive. There are two brief appendices one that champions the subtle flavors in craft coffee and one discussing some coffee brewing essentials.

  4. Kenn Peters

    “The Philosophy of Coffee” is surprising enough a very interesting book. I received it as a gift for Christmas, and absolutely loved it. I think you have to have some interest in coffee history, and then you will find this book fascinating. I can recommend it to anyone, interested in history :-) Great article by the way! I love your blog.

  5. Peter D

    I should read this book. :)

  6. Candace Flyne

    Good one!!I read with interest your review on the philosophy of coffee for coffee lovers

  7. Candace Flyne

    Good one!!I read with interest ,Awe some for coffee lovers

  8. ameena

    as a coffee lover it is very good to read thank you .can you share more info?

  9. coffee filter

    very nice

  10. Russell Volz


    It’s interesting how the coffee “culture” can be as alluring as the coffee. Just as there is a “beer” culture, or “wine” culture, where people hang out discussing politics, sports, and religion; the coffee culture has its own unique flavor. It’s this culture that got me started with coffee. It sure wasn’t the coffee. But over time, the coffee got to me too.

    I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of Brian’s book. Thanks for the review.

    • John

      In addition to picking up Brian’s book, I’d recommend checking out his blog. It is packed full of coffee culture and coffee shop reviews. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.


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