Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. By Mark Pendergrast. New York: Basic Books, 1999. Pp. xxi, 520. $27.50, cloth; $18.00, paper
The history of coffee is a tale of romance and complexity, sometimes bitter, sometimes enlightened. Mark Pendergrast weaves this tale with the art of a master storyteller. From its legendary discovery in the ancient land of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), coffee became a source of stimulus for new ideas, work, and social controversy. Traded throughout the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century, the curious beverage was brought to the hands of Pope Clement VIII by priests who wanted to ban it. He tasted and replied: Why, this Satan s drink is so delicious, it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it (p. 8). So the Western European romance with it began. By the eighteenth century, coffeehouses provided an egalitarian meeting place and a social context for emerging liberal institutions and the American and French Revolutions.
Volume (Year): 61 (2001)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
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