Book Reviews

Book review: Uncommon Grounds.

Uncommon Grounds

Unquestionably, coffee has become one of the most popular stimulating non alcoholic beverages of the western world.

Mark Prendergast covers a lot of ground in this extensive book about coffee, albeit, the focus is more than anything else the American market, marketing techniques of conglomerates, and how it evolved over time.

That being said, a few aspects of how America’s big corporations operate become crystal clear. Corporate business in America is based primarily on marketing and politics, not so much on quality and taste when it comes to food and beverages.

Big corporations spend millions on hiring media companies, advertising and promotion to sell inferior tasting coffee at high prices and in the past, by and large, were successful.

Some of the big brands consisted mainly of inexpensive coffea robusta beans, but were touted as superior. Gullible people bought such coffees, since they were ignorant of superior coffea arabica coffee and how it tasted.

They were never given an opportunity to experience a fine, expertly brewed coffee for comparison. By the way, this is also true for wine.

Even today, the average coffee drinker can hardly distinguish between highland-grown coffea arabica beans and inferior coffee from flatlands in African, or South American coffee-producing countries.

Thanks to some astute entrepreneurs, this is changing rapidly.

In the 1970’s, coffee sold in North America was an abysmal product and turned off a lot of young people. Thankfully, travelling to continental Europe changed many young, educated people who demanded better quality coffee. And the market responded, as it always does, at least in the U.S.A.

Mark Prendergast researched the South and Central American coffee production well, delved into the American politics of coffee, and explored the evolution of coffee marketing in the U.S.A, but not so well in Europe and other countries, including Scandinavia, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

Overall, coffee lovers and coffee retailers will benefit from this book. They will learn marketing techniques that can be modified to meet their needs. It is well written, researched and eminently readable.

If you want to learn about coffee beans, how to buy, store, and brew your “cup”, get it, read it, and refer to it from time to time. Remember Uncommon Grounds!

Uncommon Grounds

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