I am not usually a podcast listener, but have recently been hooked by the Empire podcast, where historians tell the story of the rise and fall of some of history’s most important, well, empires.
In an episode released in January, the subject is the history of coffee, particularly its impact in the Ottoman Empire, spread through Europe, and development in England. The hosts are William Dalrymple, a Scot who has lived most of his adult life in India and written many terrific books, and Anita Anand, a British journalist and historian of Punjabi descent. They are joined for this episode by Harvard professor Cemal Kafadar, who has written of coffee in early modern Istanbul.
I realize this description has been less than enthralling, but give it a try. The podcast is available on Apple podcasts and on Spotify.
Here are suggestions on what to get for the person who……..
Wants to make better coffee at home, by any method
I could wax poetically about coffee demigod James Hoffmann and his new book, How to Make the Best Coffee at Home, ($19.99 – available from all major book retailers, though it would be nice of you to support your local independent bookstore), but better to let the man himself tell you all about it.
So two weeks before Christmas may be a little late to be much help. Remember, if something doesn’t arrive in time you can always print a picture and let them know their present is on the way! Or start normalizing New Year’s gifts.
If for some reason you’d prefer well-written professional writing and images – can’t imagine why – many quality coffee roasters have added holiday gift guides to their websites. You should also check out Counter Culture Coffee’s staff recommendations page for recommendations on the best gear for making great coffee at home.
Many of these are repeats from past guides, but I’ve tried as much as possible to find new/different/improved versions. Okay, let’s go.
If you find yourself in Western Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, stop by Bittersweet Cafe in Farmington to see if they’ve got their blackberry pie available. Goodness me is it delicious; fresh, dense, fruity, not too sweet. Coffee’s not bad, either.
Then go visit Fallingwater. Lives up to the hype and then some.
The New York Times‘ occasional Culinary Arts animated feature recently took on British coffee genius and YouTube star James Hoffmann. It was an interesting and visually arresting look into Hoffmann’s appeal and his path to coffee stardom.
One panel caught my eye, as it included Hoffmann’s French press recipe.