Lucy Palmer reviews the latest book by Paul Chrystal, just published by Amberley Books.

Coffee - A Drink for the Devil - book review

We Brits drink on average 1.76 kg of coffee each a year and UK coffee sales expanded by 6.4 per cent in 2013. Have we sold our souls to the devil, as some 16th-century Catholics believed, or is drinking coffee a health-giving – or at least harmless – pursuit, as has also been argued across the centuries?

This is only one of the many fascinating issues explored by medical expert, historian and author Paul Chrystal in his informative and entertaining book. Packed with extraordinary legends and intriguing facts, Coffee – A Drink for the Devil tracks the history of the drink from its origins in Ethiopia and the Yemen through its arrival in Europe and Latin America to its status as worldwide beverage of choice, second only in popularity to tap water.

History of coffee

Paul Chrystal’s book reveals how the history of the coffee house is intimately linked to that of European culture, internal and transatlantic politics, and international trade. It also offers some surprising revelations along the way, such as the fact that the introduction of hot food in coffee houses was a serendipitous side-effect of Napoleon’s military tactics or that the croissant is not actually French.

There have been many failed attempts to ban coffee over the ages, but with over 7 million metric tons produced annually, our love affair with the ‘devil’s drink’ doesn’t seem set to end any time soon.

Immensely readable, Coffee – A Drink for the Devil contains plenty of period illustrations, adding visual appeal, and is in a handy format that makes it easy to pop in your bag and take with you. Appropriately for its subject matter, it’s the perfect companion for a leisurely visit to your favourite café and is the ideal coffee table book. For even greater portability, it’s also available in Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats.

Amberley Publishing, 2016
ISBN 978-1-4456-4839-2

Lucy Palmer

Lucy Palmer

Lucy is an ex-TEFL-teacher and keen foodie with a particular fondness for Sicilian seafood. She fancies herself as a bit of a linguist and enjoys delighting/boring her colleagues with language-related trivia. She is an obsessive reader, cyclist and collector of pebbles. Her most memorable experiences include climbing a Mayan pyramid at dawn, working with baby orangutans, and accidentally smashing all the company champagne glasses.

More Posts

Posts you might like

fed up and drunk