By Scott F. Parker, Michael W. Austin and Fritz Allhoff, $19.95, 247 pages
Not enough coffee provided grounds for a woman to divorce her husband in 16th century Arab societies, and that’s just one of the interesting tidbits offered in this collection of essays, Coffee: Grounds for Debate (Philosophy for Everyone ).
Coffee has a powerful impact on our psyches and this volume of philosophy explores this impact in a way that is, as promised, approachable and thought-provoking.
Beginning with the premise that “philosophy is basically the science of getting high and asking: Why?,” the essays cover an aromatic variety of topics involving coffee, its origins and history, before deepening the discussion, exploring coffee and morality, how coffee relates to philosophy, karma and coffee, existentialism as it applies to the coffee habit, the coffee culture and social change, the aesthetics of coffee, and the ethics involved in the coffee trade, coffee as a performance-enhancing drug, and the environment.
Whether a trouble-making brew that causes “too much fun in the coffeehouses,” a medicine, religious aid, panacea or devil’s piss, the controversy around coffee continues, even as so many of us worldwide “need the bean.” This compilation is perfect for the “philosophically minded coffee-lover” and those who just like books and coffee.
Reviewed by Axie Barclay