For all you folks who wouldn't dream of starting the day without your cup of Joe, I am happy to submit two books that should be of interest.
"Left Coast Roast" is by Portland-based Hanna Neuschwander, who started out as a barista and has gone on to write extensively about the coffee-roasting movement and even to serve as a barista competition judge. This new book features her picks for the best coffee and roasters from Bellingham to the Bay Area.
"Left Coast Roast" celebrates coffee as both social ritual and aesthetic experience - and the pleasing design, clever graphics and well-thought-out color palette of this guide are certainly an expressive extension of the latter.
First up, Neuschwander offers a coffee primer that provides a lingo list, a brief dissertation on the flavor profiles of coffee beans grown in different regions across the globe, an informative section on roast craft, and an instructive "seed to cup" timeline that discusses all of the activities required to transform a coffee bean into the cup of coffee you're drinking while reading this newspaper.
Then Neuschwander puts forth a select guide of 55 "iconic" roasters operating up and down the West Coast, from small artisanal enterprises to some of the "corporate leviathans," which is how they were described by coffee roasting pioneer Alfred Peet.
"Left Coast Roast" is a lively and well-conceived field guide to an industry that became a phenomenon in the late 20th century and is continuing strong into the foreseeable future.
"Eclectic Coffee Spots in Puget Sound" is a coffee-table book about coffee. Artist Marsha Glaziere has assembled photographs and her own paintings of the coffeehouses, coffee kiosks and cafes she has visited throughout our region.
The book's title is true to its contents. As Glaziere notes, "Serendipity has played its hand quite often during my coffee spot exploration," and the book makes no pretense at being comprehensive.
In terms of geographic coverage, the results are skewed toward heavy representation of Seattle establishments, a somewhat lighter touch covering the south sound, and more cursory treatment yet of west and north sound businesses.
Most of the photographs are serviceable representations, and the impressionistic paintings - there are more than three dozen of them - blaze with color.
Glaziere provides light personal commentary as well - tidbits about décor, menu, business mission and history, and whether the establishment is dog-friendly. (Glaziere frequently travels with her handsome canine assistant, an Aussie-Chow mix named Ocho, who appears in some of the images.) At book's end, she tucks in some recipes that look scrumptious.
This self-published book has a few quirks: no table of contents, a regional map that would have been better placed at the front of the book than at the back, and a weird and tiny list of footnoted material.
Nonetheless, either this book or "Left Coast Roast" might make a welcome holiday gift this year, especially if paired with a pound of choice coffee beans from your favorite local establishment.
BARBARA LLOYD MCMICHAEL writes a weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org