On Real Books and Real Coffee

A couple of years ago, I wrote about how I liked real books and that e-readers just weren’t for me in the eloquently titled post Me Like Books.

Funny enough, I found myself with a Kindle a year after that. A friend of mine got one for free and as she already had one, she gave it to me.

It was free, so I was like, why not, y’know?

Folks, it was like that Simpsons episode when Homer first took medicinal marijuana: his pupils widened, music played, and everything just seemed to be awesome.*

I couldn’t get over how convenient having a Kindle was. I downloaded a bunch of books and just kept on reading. Since I take BART (public transportation in the Bay Area, has nothing to do with the Simpsons), I had ample time to partake in all of this electronic goodness. I even downloaded e-book version of books I already had because what if I needed to reference something at that moment? This pertained to some, what I consider vital, non-fiction books I had, not for my copy of the Action Hero’s Handbook or anything like that (Why, yes, I do have a copy of Action Hero’s Handbook.)

I got to be honest with you all, I thought that was the end of my physical book-buying adventures because if I even heard about a book that seemed interesting, I would go on Amazon to see if I could download a copy.

But then it didn’t become the end. I still went to book signings and bought books here and there, because, let’s be honest, some books, like the graphic novels I tend to read now and then or something like Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, don’t lend themselves well to be read on a Kindle or tablet.

Which brings me to two books on coffee: Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle and The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes.

When I first heard of Left Coast Roast by Hanna Neuschwander, it had just been published and so I went on Amazon to download it but saw that it wasn’t available for the Kindle. After a moment of lamenting the lack of instant gratification, I went ahead and ordered it. When I got it, I completely understood why I couldn’t and shouldn’t get it on a Kindle. The paperback book is multi-colored and looks really cool. Had this been available even in color version for my tablet for my Nexus 7, it still wouldn’t have done this book justice.

The book contains coffee definitions, the different types of coffee that comes from different countries, how to roast coffee, and different ways of preparing coffee. In addition, the author writes about different roasters from San Francisco to Seattle and also lists some coffee shops too in these areas.

It was quite an education for me because while I knew of a lot of the roasters in the Bay, I wasn’t aware of all of them and I also didn’t realize that places like Sacramento or Healdsburg (where??) would have coffee roasters in their vicinity as well.

I don’t know enough roasters myself to make too much comment on the merits of the ones featured in this book, but I wish that the author started a bit more south on the coast if only to talk about Kean Coffee in Orange County. Not only do they roast some pretty great coffee, their cafes are really cool and always a destination spot for me whenever I visit my buddy in OC.

That is just a minor suggestion though as Left Coast Roast makes me want to go on a road trip up the coast and try out all the places they talked about in Portland and Seattle. One day, InshAllah, one day.

Left Coast Roast

And then there’s the Blue Bottle book.

With its hardback binding, gorgeous pictures, and just the feel of it, this is another testament to why I still need to keep on getting real books.

Written in part by James Freeman, the founder and owner of Blue Bottle Coffee, a roaster based in Oakland, CA with cafes in San Francisco and New York, along with their HQ in Oakland, the book covers some of the same ground as Left Coast Roast in terms of grinding, roasting, and talking about the different methods of making coffee but on a bit of a grander scale while providing a Blue Bottle perspective. This book also has recipes of a lot of the food and snacks that are served in the Blue Bottle cafes while featuring asides of a page or more of “side-note” type items, like “The Anatomy of an Espresso Machine”, “A Note About Crema”, and, um, “A Special Place in Hell: Pod Coffee”.

Blue Bottle Book

If you’re into coffee, both of these books should be considered obvious additions to your non-electronic book library. If you’re not too into coffee, I can imagine you would conduct an eyeroll (maybe even one of Liz Lemon magnitude) at the thought of reading about topics like cuppings or the meticulous nature of the brewing techniques featured, which is fine. Not everyone is a coffee nerd. To be honest, when I read books like these, I realize that I’m not really even quite the coffee nerd myself!

In the end, coffee aside, e-readers have actually made me read more, maybe because it’s so much easier to consume more books without weighing down my bookshelf even further. This, of course, makes what I wrote a couple of years ago a bit laughable since I gave off a “Me and e-readers?! Perish the thought!” kinda vibe. Having said that, there really is nothing like holding a book in your own hands and in the case of the books above, reveling in something that could never have really come across electronically.

Nothing wrong with both kinds of books. Just read, folks. That’s all that matters.

*Do I really have to asterisk this to say I’ve never smoked weed nor plan to?

3 thoughts

  1. Just write! I probably would read more with an E-Reader. Maybe? Do I workout more with a gym membership? Probably more than if I didn’t have one. I do need to read more. You are a coffee connoisseur, not a Nerd. Thanks for sharing.

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