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[96B PICKS] Best Coffee Books

by Thai Dang

Apart from practicing everyday and discussing with peers, reading is an essential part of our team's devotion to learning. Reading is a great tool not only to learn new techniques, but also to ask better questions. Here are some of 96B team's picks on our favourite coffee books:

An encyclopedia for all things coffee. Wintgens et al.'s is our trusted guidebook for understanding coffee varieties, growing, processing, and researching.

The writing is quite scholarly, dense with scientific findings and serious discussions. It is not a light read - but it is truly rewarding with each chapter you finish.

Simply a must for anyone serious about coffee.

2. Best for Understanding Roasting: The Coffee Roaster's Companion

We can always do more with MORE books focusing on coffee roasting, but it's hard to beat Scott Rao's cult favourite on his tried-and-true roasting method.

We have sat in Rao's coffee roasting sessions before, and have read and re-read his various books. His advice and recommendations always serve as a reliable stepping stone for us to understand and calibrate our own roasting practice and roast profiling.

There are many things to love about Ryan Brown's slim book. It is fun. The writing is engaging. The illustration is quirky and informative. But above all, we love Brown's message on building relationship with producers and the importance of building an ethical sourcing method. His ethos is in line with our very own practice (all our Vietnamese coffees are directly sourced from farmers) and our focus on fostering the community spirit in trading and consuming coffee.

4. Best for Running a Business: What I Know About Running Coffee Shops

Colin Harmon started his coffee business by running a one-man cart, working his way up to building 3FE one of the best-loved third-wave brands in the world. His book is full of clear-headed, concise, and actionable recommendations for cafe owners everywhere.

We especially love how his advice is widely applicable in most businesses, not just in coffee-focused ones. The chapter on why friends/families should be treated as customers, and why a business should be run as a professional/legal entity (instead of as a family) is what everyone should keep in mind.

Everyone and their mothers have read James Hoffmann's beautiful, informative, educational, enjoyable book (I hope). Hence it seems trite to include this book here, but how can any coffee book list be completed without this one?

If you are sick and tired of a certain creed of instagram coffee aesthetics, in which coffee is splashed in the air, poured deliberately on the table, dumped into the cosmos, this book is for you. If you care anything at all about waste, about sustainability, or simply about how hard it is to produce coffee, Umeko Motoyoshi's message will resonate.

Apart from not wasting coffee for the 'gram (duh), Motoyoshi's book is full of thoughtful discussions on further practices of honouring coffee (which also means paying respect to every other part of the coffee supply chain), such as roasting coffee for high extraction. At 96B, we have been recording our cupping results to tweak individual beans' roasting profiles to optimise extraction. The result will be shared in a different blog post.

6 is a very small number of the growing collection of high quality coffee books. For more recommendations on interesting books, check out our list here. Please note that all the books mentioned here are available for reading and referencing at our cafe. Simply ask our baristas if you want to check out our own library.


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