Happy National Coffee Day!

September 29, 2011

If you’re looking to justify your second or sixth cup of coffee this morning, then my friend, you’re in luck.  Today from Philly to Phoenix and St. Paul to San Antone java junkies are hoisting their ceramic mugs high in celebration of National Coffee Day.  For the next twenty-four glorious hours, you can feel free to throw caution to the wind and make that extra coffee run, upsize to the venti, and drink in all the holiday cheer.  Chances are good, however, that after sipping Americanos all afternoon you’ll need some way to occupy your time as you lie awake into the wee hours humming with caffeine.  So as our holiday gift to you, allow us to present the following coffee-related books and movies in honor of today and your future sleepless night.  Without question, these histories, mysteries, travelogues, and thrillers are sure to become part of your Coffee Day traditions for years to come.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss

Historical suspense fans won’t wont to miss this stellar second novel from the Edgar-winning Liss.  Set in Amsterdam in 1659, this complex thriller follows a Jewish trader trying to make his fortune in the shadowy world of the early coffee market.  Filled to the brim with mystery, intrigue, schemers and rogues.

The Coffeehouse Mystery Series by Cleo Coyle

This cozy mystery series from a pen-named wife-husband writing team is ten books strong and growing in popularity.  Blending humor with rich dialogue, the novels follow Village Blend barista Clare Cosi as she solves crimes and offers up delicious recipes to boot.  Start with series debut On What Grounds.

Coffee and Cigarettes directed by Jim Jarmusch

This quirky 2003 film is comprised of eleven comic vignettes in which characters discuss topics like Paris in the ’20’s and caffeine popsicles over, you guessed it, coffee and cigarettes.  Memorably stars Bill Murray, Iggy Pop, Cate Blanchett, Roberto Benigni, and the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA and RZA.

The Devil’s Cup by Stewart Lee Allen

This appealingly offbeat combo of inspired travel writing and smart cultural criticism takes readers along on Allen’s pilgrimages to coffee’s major sites of interest including the drink’s birthplace in Harrar, Ethiopia and the search for the worst cup in America.  Good, caffeinated fun.

Coffee with Shakespeare by Stanley Wells

The renowned Shakespeare scholar presents this fictionalized interview with the Bard in which he chats about life, love, writing, and acting. With a forward by actor Joseph Fiennes, this entertaining book follows Shakespeare’s rise from humble beginnings to Elizabethan London’s center stage.

The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella

Set in 1893 London, this historical love story tells the tale of young Robert Wallis – an impoverished poet hired by an eccentric coffee merchant to map the elusive tastes of coffee.  After falling for his boss’s daughter, Wallis is sent to Africa to continue the assignment and finds his life forever changed.

Black Gold directed by Marc and Nick Francis

A finalist for a Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, this hard-hitting documentary exposes the inequities of the world coffee trade by tracing its path from your to-go cup back to the bean farmer.  This eye-opening call-to-action is sure to make you “wake up and smell the coffee.”

Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast

This fascinating history thoroughly examines the meteoric growth of the coffee industry in the U.S.  Tracing the popularity of “black medicine” back to the Native Americans and the Civil War, Pendergast explores the Folgers and Hills Brothers dynasties as well as the rise of specialty shops like Starbucks.

Counter Culture by Candacy Taylor

Photographer and former waitress Taylor presents this collection of oral histories celebrating the old-school coffee shop waitress.  Funny and poignant, this unique tribute features the stories of 57 “lifers” from across the U.S. who were often the heart and soul of their diner.

Russell J. 


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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