Review of the Book “ALL ABOUT COFFEE” - 1922

Review of the Book “ALL ABOUT COFFEE” - 1922

Comprehensive Review of Mr. Ukers’ Work on Great American Beverage by New York Literary Critic

ALL ABOUT COFFEE. By William H. Ukers, M. A., editor of The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. A sumptuous volume of 860 royal octavo pages, containing 36. chapters and 415,000 words; 777 illustrations, including 17 pages in color and 102 portraits; 29 maps and diagrams; a coffee thesaurus; a coffee chronology, giving 492, important dates, in coffee history; a coffee bibliography of 1,348 titles; and an index with more than 10,000 references. New York: The Tea & Coffee Trade Journal Co., $15 met.

The whole story of coffee, from its earliest use to the present day, with no topic omitted that is pertinent to the subject, or that is useful to the grower, the importer, the roaster, the machinery manufacturer, the broker, the wholesale distributer, the retailer, or the ultimate consumer.

Coffee—the tree, the bean, the beverage—is treated exhaustively, accurately, entertainingly, and authoritatively, in its commercial, historical, agricultural, sociologic, literary, artistic, and scientific aspects.

Written in a lively, narrative style, the work is compact of information, rendered instantly available to the inquirer by means of its minutely complete index.

The Author's Equipment

The author's experience in the field has covered 20 years, for 17 of which he has been collecting data and making studies for this book, which has taken four years to write. In preparation for his task, he made several extended journeys to Europe and the Orient, and has had the collaboration of eminent experts in the presentation of such special topics as the botany, the chemistry, the microscopy, and the pharmacology of coffee.

The Story of Production

Starting with the discovery of the uses, the benefits, and the delights of coffee, as recorded in ancient manuscripts and handed down in legendary lore, the book follows the history of the propagation of the tree in widely separated subtropics lands to supply the increasing demand for the bean, as the beverage grew in favor, first in Europe and later in America.

Varieties and Characteristics

In then covers in detail the diverse methods of cultivation in the producing countries, the preparation of the bean for market, and its transportation to ports of shipment and overseas. The many varieties of coffee grown throughout the world are fully described, with their differentiating characteristics, both in the bean and in the cup. The amounts of each produced and exported to the consuming countries are shown and, where important, in tabular form. The story of the development of plantation machinery is told, with descriptions of the different processes and of the mechanical devices employed in them.

Coffee and the Consumer

Passing from production to consumption, the author traces the course taken by the beverage as knowledge of its virtues—carried by adventurous travelers—spread from Abyssinia and Arabia to Europe and followed the early colonists to the western hemisphere.

Coffee Houses

One of the most interesting features of the work is the part devoted to accounts of the coffee houses that sprang up to act as first distributers of the beverage, and became, in all countries where they appeared, centers of social life, developing into forums of free speech, in which the spirit of democracy flourished and, in some instances, ripened into revolution, sanguinary in France, peaceful in Britain.

Trade History and Its Makers

As coffee found its way from the coffee houses into the homes of the people, trading in the green bean increased in volume and importance, and receives commensurate attention, with especial emphasis on the history of the coffee trade in the United States. Pioneers and prominent figures in trade development in the leading cities, their achievements, the organization of exchanges here and abroad, and of the various trade associations, are described, and their operations explained.

Along with this is told the remarkable history of the roasting, grinding, and packaging industries, and of the manufacture of the necessary machinery, —subjects that serve to bring to light many interesting personalities.

The Business Side

The growth of imports, the shifting currents of trade, the variations in prices, the booms and panics, the story of Brazil's various valorization schemes to regulate production and to maintain prices, all are recounted with illuminating particularity.

The Advertising End

Coffee publicity comes in for expert treatment in a chapter covering the entire subject from the standpoint of the grower, the importer, the wholesaler, and the retailer. Advertising, both by the trade and by government propaganda, is critically and constructively reviewed. The principles set up by the author, and illustrated by noteworthy examples, constitute a lofty standard of practice.

The Human Interest

What more especially takes the book out of the class of purely technical works is the stress laid throughout on coffee's influence on human life, on the manners and customs to which its use gave rise, on the political, medical, and religious controversies that it incited, on the literature and art —both graphic and industrial—that it inspired.

For the Housewife

Not the least valuable feature to the layman is the expert advice on how to buy coffee to best advantage for the household, on the selection of blends, and on how properly to prepare it for the table, so that everyone who drinks it may have it served to suit his or her individual preference and taste.


It is pleasant to record the unanimous approval that has greeted the publication of Mr. Ukers’ book, “All About Coffee.”

Trade authorities and literary critics in Europe and America have pronounced it the greatest contribution to the literature of coffee in any country.

On critic has said, “Certainly, nothing published in the last thirty years has been calculated to promote a better understanding of coffee than this extremely accurate, comprehensive, and scholarly work by the editor of the international organ of the coffee trade.”

As showing how widespread an interest has developed in the book, orders have already been received from libraries, lawyers, advertising agents, judges, college professors, bankers, machinery manufacturers, sugar refiners, chemists, hotel managers, United States and foreign consuls, cereal manufacturers, and inventors, as well as coffee planters, exporters, importers, brokers, jobbers, wholesale and retail roasters, salesmen, wagon-route men, chain-store headquarters, and wholesale and retail grocers.

One pleased coffee-roaster purchaser has suggested that a reference book of this character should be available to the public in every public library in the country, and that coffee men who deem it meritorious could aid in promoting its distribution by recommending the purchase of a copy by their local libraries.

“All About Coffee” Reviewed, in The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, New York: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Co., Vol. 42, No. 11, November 1922, p. 688-689, 692

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