The Illy book has no serious competition. Wonderous!
Negative Product Points
Expensive and out of print.
This is a monograph with the subtitle of: The Chemistry of Quality. Published in 1995 and essentially out of print, although copies are floating around available via cyberspace. ISBN: 0-12-370670-x. The authors or editors are: Andrea Illy and Rinantonio Viani. This is a work that has been put together by the famous espresso company, Illy. Up front, this is a very expensive book and hence only for the true coffee fanatic - $64 from The Specialty Coffee Association of America. It is principally for the coffee food industry types, but is readable by the layman. Preferably one should have some background in chemistry and math, at the college level. Although the title is Espresso Coffee, what is contained within these pages are for those who have the need to understand what is actually going on during the entire coffee process: from agriculture through processing the bean through the steps of actually making the coffee. In other words, the details that make the difference in making coffee. Making coffee is not a cut and dried process. There are a lot of variables when it comes to trying to make very high quality coffee, whether that be espresso or the use of a French plunger pot. There are numerous tradeoff's that one must make and they are very clearly elucidated within these pages. It is a very small book of only 253 pages, 5.5"X9". Nonetheless, this is the bible of coffee (little or no history to be found here) and has already acquired legendary status amongst afficionados. To me, it was a joy to read/skim but that is because I am very interested in the subject. Very technical. Indispensable. This IS the standard reference when it comes to coffee quality and the chemistry that goes into it. No other book even comes close.