The Various Flavors of Coffee

The Various Flavors of Coffee

Book - 2008
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From the internationally bestselling author ofThe Wedding Officercomes a novel whose stunning blend of exotic adventure and erotic passion will intoxicate every reader who tastes of its remarkable delights. When a woman gives a man coffee, it is a way of showing her desire. --Abyssinian proverb It was a cup of coffee that changed Robert Wallis's life--and a cup of very bad coffee at that. The impoverished poet is sitting in a London coffeehouse contemplating an uncertain future when he meets Samuel Pinker. The owner of Castle Coffee offers Wallace the very last thing a struggling young artiste infin de siècleEngland could possibly want: a job. But the job Wallis accepts--employing his palate and talent for words to compose a "vocabulary of coffee" based on its many subtle and elusive flavors--is only the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in which Wallis will experience the dizzying heights of desire and the excruciating pain of loss. As Wallis finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his coworker, Pinker's spirited suffragette daughter Emily, both will discover that you cannot awaken one set of senses without affecting all the others. Their love is tested when Wallis is dispatched on a journey to North Africa in search of the legendary Arab mocca.As he travels to coffee's fabled birthplace--and learns the fiercely guarded secrets of the trade--Wallis meets Fikre, the defiant, seductive slave of a powerful coffee merchant, who serves him in the traditional Abyssinian coffee ceremony. And when Fikre dares to slip Wallis a single coffee bean, the mysteries of coffee and forbidden passion intermingle…and combine to change history and fate. From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 2008.
ISBN: 9780553807325
Characteristics: 548 pages ; 23 cm


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Apr 21, 2011

Attracted by both an interesting title and a beautiful cover, I had high expectations for The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella as I had so enjoyed The Wedding Officer previously. Unfortunately I was in for a letdown. At slightly over 700 pages, this was a big mess of a story that dealt with love, sex, coffee, slavery, Africa, the suffragette movement, business and ultimately loss. The main character, who at the beginning of the book warns you that you won’t like him, starts off as a dilettante fop who would rather spend his time in a whorehouse than learning to be a responsible grown up. By the end of the book he has come full circle, but by that time I hardly cared.

Don’t get me wrong, there were parts of this book that were very readable and interesting. It just went off on too many tangents and he seemed to write himself into a corner more than once. He used sex and earthy descriptions to advance the story, which after a couple of times got rather silly and boring. If he had perhaps narrowed his focus to one or two of the above mentioned subjects he may have produced a more cohesive story.

What this author did produce is a rather readable, well researched soap opera that was a little too full of drama and florid language to be taken seriously. Too bad, as I think this could have been an extraordinary story.

vickiboo Jan 22, 2011

He's definitely broke, so dissolute 1890s London poet Robert Wallis accepts a commission from coffee merchant Samuel Pinker to write a guide categorizing the various tastes of coffee. This starts Robert’s journey to maturity, touching on such diverse elements as the coffee trade, women's suffrage, futures trading and slavery along the way. You’ll never sip a cup of java with the same casual taste buds again.

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