For many baristas, coffee education happens at the espresso machine while on the job, but that doesn't mean you have to work in the coffee industry to deepen your knowledge on the subject.
If you're interested in learning more about what goes into a quality cup of joe, try one of these books suggested by metro Phoenix coffee experts.
Dan Suh of Provision Coffee says for the need-to-know facts and methods around professional coffee making, he turns to Scott Rao’s first two books, released almost 10 years ago. Suh recommends Everything But Espresso, an all-purpose coffee manual he says is fairly accessible. He also likes Rao’s second book, The Professional Barista’s Handbook.
“They’re still pretty relevant today even though some of the standards have changed,” Suh says.
He also recommends The Science of Good Cooking, by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby, as well as Hiroshi Sawada’s Basic Barista Book. At Provision, Suh uses Sawada’s book as a coffee table book—more for entertainment, Suh says, since it contains some “super-weird coffee recipes.” One of the wildest drinks in the book is the Kyoto latte, the recipe for which involves wasabi.
Jonathan Carroll of Songbird Coffee & Tea House and 1912 Coffee suggests James Hoffman’s The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing—Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed, as his “coffee bible.”
“He's kind of a coffee-visionary-God to many local independent coffee shops and truly knows what he's talking about,” Carroll wrote in an email. “…When you have an individual who’s as passionate as he is about coffee and researches and tries the vast majority of coffees around the world—that’s total reliability and deserves all the credit/recognition for what he writes and believes."
Carroll also likes Coffee Flavor Chemistry by Ivon Flament, The Infinite Emotions of Coffee by Alon Y. Halevy, The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop by Nina Luttinger, Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast, All About Coffee by William H. Ukers, God In A Cup by Michaele Weissman and Black Gold: The Dark History of Coffee by Antony Wild.
Spencer Aidukatus, brew manager and barista at Peixoto Coffee, recommends The World Atlas of Coffee.
"I would say The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffmann is the best book if you want to learn about all aspects of coffee,” he says. “It teaches you about how they grow the coffee, how they process it, problems within the coffee world (like coffee rust) and other things that can hurt the plant and the farmers. It also teaches you about roasting, home brewing, espresso knowledge all the things we do on our side of things… I think it's one of the best books for beginners to the coffee professionals."
StephenCarpenter, assistant manager at Cartel Coffee Lab at Sky Harbor Airport also cites Scott Rao’s two books and Uncommon Grounds by Pendergrast. But he explains that because it’s the 21st century, a wealth of valuable information for baristas and coffee drinkers alike is found online.
“The Specialty Coffee Association of America's website has a general guideline of drink standards, definitions, and news on the industry, as does www.sprudge.com,” Carpenter says. “For some latte-art how-to videos, check YouTube for one by Charles Babinski, the national barista champion of last year and Counter Culture Coffee."
Editor's Note: This post has been changed from its original version.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.