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7 Best Coffee Books in 2023

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I’m about to show you the best books you can read about coffee right now. They’ll be perfect for brushing up your coffee knowledge! 

I have read a lot of books about coffee in the past few years, so I wanted to show you what I think are the best ones. 

At the top of the list, I’ve picked James Hoffman’s The World Atlas of Coffee. It’s a fantastic overview of coffee overall for beginners and professionals alike. 

the world atlas of coffee by james hoffman

The World Atlas of Coffee: Best Overall

  • Author: James Hoffman 
  • Pages: 503
  • Price: $$
  • Year Published: 2014
  • Best For: All skill levels
  • Niches Covered: Everything about beans and brewing

But you might prefer to start with one of my other top seven. Each of them is good for different reasons!

Let’s go.

Top 7 Coffee Books 

Stay tuned for a closer look at each of these picks.

1. Best Overall – The World Atlas of Coffee

the world atlas of coffee by james hoffman
AuthorJames Hoffman 
Pages503
Price$$
Year Published 2014
Best For All skill levels
Niches CoveredEverything about beans and brewing

Pros

  • Covers a vast amount of coffee information
  • Compact and concisely written

Cons

  • Brewing methodology not so in depth

If you’re into coffee, you’ve probably heard of the author James Hoffman. This guy is arguably the most famous barista in the world, so I trust what he has to say about coffee!

His greatest ever book, in my opinion, is The World Atlas of Coffee. This fantastic piece of work covers loads of information about the different types of coffee drinks and beans

It doesn’t go into too much detail on how to actually make a cup of coffee. You’d need to read another of Hoffman’s books for that (check out my fifth pick). But considering that this is an average sized book, there’s a lot of great content within.

It comes for a good price as well for a hardcover book. You can grab a new copy for a fair price and it’s widely available on the second hand marketplace, such is the popularity of it.

No matter whether you’re a professional barista or a beginner brewer, this could be a good book for you. I’d recommend it to anyone!


2. Best for Baristas – The Professional Barista’s Handbook

the professional baristas handbook by scott rao
AuthorScott Rao
Pages99
Price$$$
Year Published 2008
Best For Experienced amateurs and professional baristas 
Niches CoveredHow to prepare and brew coffee

Pros

  • Ultimate guide to brewing coffee
  • Lots of useful visual guides

Cons

  • A little short

It contains loads of useful tips from its author, Scott Rao. Rao is a professional barista who specializes in barista training. He set out to write the ultimate guide to making coffee after being surprised that no other such literature really existed before. 

And it worked. But this book is tailored to those with a degree of skill. Don’t pick this up if you’re a beginner as it’s designed to be read by those with a knowledge of coffee.

He shows the more academic side of being a barista. The book discusses the more technical details of coffee extraction etc. 

It is very well written too. And this book is not just about the text either. There are a lot of handy visual prompts in the form of graphics, so you can see what things should look like. 

This book is only 99 pages long. You might think that you’d get a little more content for the price, as it is a little expensive. But at the end of the day, it does tell us readers everything we need to know. So I can’t be mad about this! 

Perhaps if it had been longer, it would’ve been well suited to those with a lower skill level as well. But, that’s not the point of this book. And that’s why I’ve picked it as the best book about coffee for baristas. 


3. Best for Budgets – The New Rules of Coffee: A Modern Guide for Everyone

the new rules of coffee
AuthorJordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen
Pages160
Price$
Year Published 2017
Best For Beginners and intermediate coffee fans
Niches CoveredAll areas of modern coffee making 

Pros

  • Very affordable 
  • Beautiful, useful illustrations

Cons

  • Not as much detail as some guides

Online coffee blog and magazine Sprudge has been an integral part of the world coffee scene for some time now. So I was really glad to see that its founders, Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen, had written a book called The New Rules of Coffee: A Modern Guide for Everyone.

Unlike my previous top pick, this book is designed with the intention of being accessible for everyone. It’d be a great option for beginners looking to gain some good knowledge of coffee. Or even more experienced users who want to keep up to date.

The book covers all aspects of modern coffee brewing. It can be confusing to keep up with all the latest innovations, but Michelman and Carlsen have certainly been doing so. 

They’ve illustrated their book with beautiful drawings, showing you exactly what they’re describing.

Plus, this book is available for a very good price. You can pick it up for well under the $20 mark. And you can get it even cheaper by going second hand, as there are a lot of options available, such is the popularity of the book.

The detail here is probably not going to satisfy a clued up and up to date barista. But if you are a coffee beginner (or even if you have some experience) and on a budget, this really could be the perfect book for you. 


4. Best Quick Read – The Philosophy of Coffee

the philosophy of coffee by brian williams
AuthorBrian Williams
Pages80
Price$
Year Published 2018
Best For Anyone interested in coffee history
Niches CoveredThe history and culture of coffee 

Pros

  • Very affordable book
  • Interesting sub niche

Cons

  • Short book 

This is a hardcover book but it is small and very affordable. In fact, it’s cheaper than a lot of paperback books.

Plus, the book is widely available on the second hand market. So if you want to save even more money, you can do that through the likes of World of Books and Amazon.

The book follows the sub niche of the history of coffee and the culture around it. It provides some interesting insights to how coffee culture has developed in different parts of the world throughout history. 

The Philosophy of Coffee is a short book though. There are only 80 pages, but there’s a good amount of detail with that considered. That’s why I’ve picked it as my best quick read coffee book.

But, for a quick book for a gift (or just a quick read for yourself), I think this is a great book to buy. It’s definitely what I would call the best coffee book for a quick read! 


5. Best for Beginners – How to Make the Best Cup of Coffee at Home

how to make the best cup of coffee at home
AuthorJames Hoffman
Pages224
Price$$
Year Published 2022
Best For Beginners
Niches CoveredAll aspects of home coffee brewing 

Pros

  • Very detailed guide to making coffee at home
  • Highly accredited author 

Cons

  • A little basic for some

This is the second book from my top picks written by James Hoffman, arguably the most famous barista in the world. He certainly knows how to make a great cup of coffee at home, and he’s written all about it in this book.

The book clearly shows users how to make a great cup of coffee in a number of ways, including grinding the beans and using an espresso machine.

Hoffman strips everything back to make this book accessible to beginners. You should be able to read this with no prior experience and learn how to make a great cup of coffee at home. And even a more experienced user could still pick up some good tips. 

At 224 (fairly short) pages, this book isn’t going to take you a super long time to read. James Hoffman is great at writing concisely, so you can get all the information you need without spending a whole lot of time acquiring it.

How to Make the Best Cup of Coffee is the newest book in my top picks having been published in 2022. So, it’s super up to date in that respect. 

Overall, this has to be the best pick for beginners as it gives them all the information they need in a very accessible way.


6. Best for Travel – Destination Coffee: A Little Book for Coffee Lovers All Over the World

destination coffee by jane ormond
AuthorJane Ormond
Pages144
Price$$
Year Published 2021
Best For Any coffee lover travelers
Niches CoveredCoffee in popular cities

Pros

  • Beautifully illustrated
  • Small and portable

Cons

  • Slightly expensive for the size 

Planning on taking a city break some time soon? Jane Ormond’s Destination Coffee will be the perfect companion for your travel.

This book is physically small, so you won’t be taking up too much space in your luggage. It’s half the size of a regular book and under 150 pages in total. 

But the actual content here is perfect for traveling coffee lovers as well. The subject of the book is about buying and drinking coffee in a number of cities all over the word, such as Portland and Rome. You should find out some interesting stuff here. 

One small downside is that it’s a little pricey but I still think it’s worth it. I can’t think of a better travel coffee book. 


7. Best Coffee Table Book – Joe: The Coffee Book

joe the coffee book
AuthorJonathan and Gabrielle Rubenstein with Judith Choate
Pages160
Price$$
Year Published 2012
Best For Beginners and intermediate users
Niches CoveredEverything about modern coffee

Pros

  • Interesting overview of modern coffee
  • Beautifully designed book

Cons

  • A little old

This awesome coffee book comes from Joe. If you’re not familiar, they’re one of the best coffee bar chains in the US. So they know a thing or two about making coffee!

The content of the book explores everything to do with modern coffee. I learned a thing or two reading it, and I’m sure you will too, even if you have some good coffee experience.

It’ll also look great on your coffee table thanks to some beautiful publication work. And it’s super easy to just dip in and out of. You don’t have to pick things up where you left off each time. 

Joe: The Coffee Book is a little expensive considering it’s just a paperback. And it’s over 10 years old now, so it might be missing some of the most up to date coffee info. 

But for a burst of exciting coffee information that’ll light up your living room, I love it. 


Coffee Book Buying Guide 

Ready to find out more about buying books on coffee? I’ll show you what I considered when picking my top seven in this upcoming section. 

Quality of ContentHow good actually is the content of the book? Does it give us readers everything we’re looking for?
Focus of ContentWhat is the book about? Is it focused more on making coffee, types of coffee or something else?
Author CredibilityIs the author well known? What other books have they written that we can add to their accreditation?
Age of BookWhen was the book written? Is it a seminal classic that’s well respected throughout time, or could it be out of date?
PriceHow much does the book cost? Is it worth that price? Is it widely available second hand for a lower price?
Book Size Is the book a heavyweight, hardback coffee table book or is it mini enough to take on your travels?
Level of ExpertiseHow much do you need to know about coffee in order to understand the content of the book?
Visual DesignDoes the book look good? Will it look appealing on your coffee table at home? And do the visuals help you understand the text?
Reviews and RecommendationsHow well received has the book been by other readers and reviewers?

Let’s take a closer look. 

#1 Quality of Content 

For this section, I’m looking specifically at how good the book actually is. Does it give us readers all the information we’re looking for? 

The only way to find out if a book is going to be good is actually to read it. So I’d recommend analyzing this when you’re at the final stages of the decision making process, even though it probably is the most important factor.

You could always read a few pages in the book shop. Or if you’re buying online, some of these books have a few preview pages that you can check out with a quick search. 

#2 Focus of Content

What’s the actual niche of the book? We’ve looked at a few general guides to coffee today, and they’re great. But are you looking to read about something more specific?

For example, if you want to learn how to brew coffee like a pro, a general coffee book might not cut it. At that point, you’re going to want to read something more specific, such as The Professional Barista’s Handbook by Scott Rao. 

#3 Author Credibility

The more credible an author is, the more likely the book is going to be good. And, the more likely that you’re going to be able to trust what they have to say as a reader. 

I’m not saying that you won’t find an amazing coffee book from a new writer. You’re just more likely to get great content for someone with a lot of experience, such as James Hoffman. 

#4 Age of Book

Some niches of coffee books require the latest information. Coffee culture is growing all the time, so some older books might be a little irrelevant at this point.

Take ‘The New Rules of Coffee’, for example. This book is awesome right now as it’s relevant, but the things it discusses might not be so relevant in a few years time. 

Remember, some authors will bring out revised editions of their books if they need to include more modern information about their sub niches. If the author does this every few years, you can be assured that the book will be current and up to date. 

#5 Price

It’s not often you find too many overpriced books but you may want to think about what your budget is if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money.

You should be able to get a good quality book about coffee for around $10. But you could spend up to $50, or maybe even more for a large, hardcover coffee table book. 

It’s also worth thinking about a book’s availability on the second hand market. If it’s been out for a few years and is popular, you’ll find more copies for sale at a lower price. This is a green and affordable way to buy a book! 

#6 Book Size

Planning on going traveling? Make sure you don’t exactly order a massive book that will barely fit in your luggage.

You could go even smaller and opt for a pocket sized book if you’re traveling really light. That’s why I like Destination Coffee by Jane Ormond. It’s small, and it’s actually about traveling! 

On the flip side, you might want a large book if you plan on using it as a coffee table book. A large, hardback book can be a very satisfying thing to have on your table at home. 

#7 Level of Expertise

Make sure not to buy anything too complicated about coffee if you’re a beginner. Some books have a prerequisite skill level that make them suitable for experienced users and pro baristas. 

At the same time, you might be disappointed to read something too simple if you have more coffee experience. There’s not much point reading something entry level then, as you’ll probably already know it all. 

#8 Visual Design

I love a book that looks good. If I’m buying a coffee table book, it has to look the part. And in fact, I find any kind of book more appealing if it looks good. 

Of course, the old saying goes ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. So, proceed with some caution here. 

Another aspect of the visual design of a coffee book is the illustrations. Some of my top picks today (e.g. Michelman and Carlsen’s ‘The New Rules of Coffee’) have amazing illustrations that bring the books to life and make it easier for the reader to understand the text. 

#9 Reviews and Recommendations

I made sure to check out some reviews of the books before I read them. This helped me understand whether they’d be worth my time reading them. If a book looked interesting but received a bunch of low ratings, I knew it was probably going to be worth avoiding.

The best places to find these reviews are with a quick search online. While it’s great to be able to read what established reviewers thought, it’s also good to see what the actual reader thought.

I found a lot of comments on the likes of the World of Books and Amazon websites for this. 

Best Coffee Books: FAQ 

Here are some extra pieces of important information to know about coffee books.

What’s the point of reading about coffee?

There’s so much you can learn about coffee by reading about it even if you think you know everything you want to know already.

The business behind it, the brewing process, the types of coffee… the list goes on, and there’s plenty to read. 

Which other books about coffee should I read?

I also recommend reading Sip ‘n’ Slurp: A Guide to Expert Coffee Tasting by Freda Yuan if you want to know about the tasting niche.

Furthermore, I enjoyed Brewing Justice by Daniel Jaffee. It talks about the ethical side of the coffee industry in stunning detail. 

My Verdict: The Best Coffee Books

Here’s a quick look back at my top three picks before we move on. I think that the vast majority of people will probably want to get started with one of these ones. 

  • Best Overall – The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffman: I think the best book about coffee in the world is this awesome read by James Hoffman. It tells you pretty much everything you need to know about coffee as an amateur.
  • Best for Professionals: The Professional Barista’s Handbook by Scott Rao: My readers looking for something more challenging (if they know a thing or two about coffee already) might prefer this one.
  • Best for Beginners: The New Rules of Coffee by James Michelman and Zachary Carlsen: If you’re completely new to coffee or only have a little experience then this option might be the best for you. It’s super accessible and great to read. 

So, what do you think? Which one do you want to get started with? That ball’s in your court now. 

And now that you’ve bought a coffee book, which coffee are you going to drink while you read it? Here’s a look at some of the best coffee.

the world atlas of coffee by james hoffman

The World Atlas of Coffee: Best Overall

  • Author: James Hoffman 
  • Pages: 503
  • Price: $$
  • Year Published: 2014
  • Best For: All skill levels
  • Niches Covered: Everything about beans and brewing
Photo of author

Author

Tim Lee is, as you might have guessed the founder of TimsCoffee.com. He is a former barista and a professional web publisher. He has now combined his knowledge and expertise in both subjects to create TimsCoffee.com.
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