09 March 2009

The Various Flavours of Coffee (Anthony Capella)

Available at all good bookstores, courtesy of Penguin Books South Africa

I'm a coffee fiend, and I'll readily admit it. If it makes a difference, you should know that I like my coffee strong, black and thick enough to hold the spoon upright all by itself. And in this, as it turns out, I'm not alone.

Anthony Capella's Robert Wallis is what I call a bum - but he's a circa 1896 bum, so he speaks beautifully, dresses beautifully, comes up with endless beautiful nonsense and charms the petticoats off the ladies. He's also the composer of a 'vocabulary of coffees': new leaf, summer leaf, pewter, jet, smoke, gingerbread - intended to capture different beans' elusive flavours and explain them, uniformly, to the world.

But when he is denied the hand of Emily, his boss's bright and beautiful daughter, he heads off to Africa to find the world's finest coffee, and encounters things he'd never have believed were possible: slavery, corruption, passion, betrayal, and twists and turns that unravel over two decades.

Incidentally, this book (by the author of The Food of Love and The Wedding Officer) is one of the most erotic I've read in years...


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