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Coffee Books (all) - Jim Pellegrini's Review
Posted: April 2, 2002, 7:03pm
review rating: 7.6
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Coffee Books (all)
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Arrow The Coffee Books (all) has 22 Reviews
Arrow The Coffee Books (all) has been rated 8.56 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Coffee Books (all) reviews have been viewed 114,358 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Carl S Lau 9.20
Carl S Lau 9.00
James Schulman 9.00
Carl S Lau 8.50
John Roche 8.40

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 5.6
Product Reviewed: Coffee Technology; Sivetz
Manufacturer: Varies Quality: 8
Average Price: Varies Usability: 2
Price Paid: $0.00 Cost vs. Value 5
Where Bought: Library Aesthetics 6
Owned for: 2 months Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: Pro Roaster Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Lots of coffee books!
Bottom Line: Interesting industrial text, but not terribly useful for the home connoisseur.
Positive Product Points

There's a lot of very detailed technical information in this book (700 pages!).
Engineers will dig it - it will remind you of all those classes you skipped.

Negative Product Points

It is not directed at educating the home roaster.
There is barely a mention of espresso - a few paragraphs, literally.
Maybe a little too technical - even for an engineer.
Out of print!

Detailed Commentary

I work in a research facility with an in-house library.  Our "information specialist" (a.k.a. librarian) one day mentioned that she could interlibrary loan just about any book.  What a discovery!  I've since reviewed at least a dozen coffee books, some more than 50 years old.

I find that the books generally fall into a few categories.  First, there are the dumbed-down books that usually include recipes for some God-awful concoction containing mostly sugar but flavored lightly with coffee.  "Coffee for Connoisseurs" fits here.  Next, there is the voluminous tome that gives the full history of the beverage, including the tale of the dancing goats.  "All About Coffee" comes to mind.  Occassionally, there is the book that is actually useful to the home user of specialty coffees - Davids falls into this category.  Finally, there is the textbook - cold, dry, full of facts and big words, with photos of intimidating industrial equipment and graphs of things that I never in a million years would have thought to measure.  Sivetz' work fits here.  (Fun fact: Sivetz is generally recognized as a God of sorts regarding fluid-bed roasting technology)

Overall, this is a nice reference book.  It's not the kind of thing you pick up and read, but it does have several sections that are interesting.  It's generally well written and probably unusually attainable for a volume that truly qualifies as a textbook.  There are topics that are interesting even to the home user, and as an engineer, I was personally very comfortable with the style the material is presented; some may find the style intimidating or just plain old boring.

Now for the bad news.  This is an industrial-strength reference, geared toward the commercial coffee processor.  In general, they do not discuss any piece of equipment smaller than a dump truck.  I was hopeful that the section on roasting would be useful to me as a home roaster, but was dissappointed to find that only 17 of 700 pages were devoted to this very importnat topic (vs. 60 pages of treatment on Spray Drying and Agglomeration of Instant Coffee!).

To some extent, the book appears dated (it's from the early 70's), but I suspect not a whole lot has changed since then.  And several themes continue to ring true even three decades later.  For example... "...the US consumer is overbuying R&G [roasted & ground] coffee to save a few cents per pound.  The net result is a stream of beverages noticeably less than fresh."

In the final analysis, I find Sivetz an interesting read given that I didn't have to pay for it.  If presented with the opportunity to own it, I would probably wouldn't bother, even for free.  In my opinion, it's just not useful enough to the home connoisseur to justify the space on a shelf.

Buying Experience

Inter-library loan: everybody should rediscover it!

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review rating: 7.6
Posted: April 2, 2002, 7:03pm
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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