Caffeine – Michael Pollan

My rating 7/10. Link to book.

This is a super short story from Michael Pollan. I almost read everything he writes. He has good prose and his semi-gonzo style really works for me.

Caffeine was released as an audio exclusive from Audible.

The book touches upon the culture around coffee and tea and how that came to be. Worth a listen.

Listened to this one while I was on a hike so didn’t take many notes, but one thing that stood out was how one coffee plant smuggled out of Mocha in 1616 is the ancestor to much of the coffee we drink today.

The race among Europeans to obtain live coffee trees or beans was eventually won by the Dutch in 1616. Pieter van den Broecke, a Dutch merchant, obtained some of the closely guarded coffee bushes from Mocha, Yemen, in 1616. He took them back to Amsterdam and found a home for them in the Botanical gardens, where they began to thrive. This apparently minor event received little publicity, but was to have a major impact on the history of coffee.

The beans that van der Broecke acquired from Mocha forty years earlier adjusted well to conditions in the greenhouses at the Amsterdam Botanical Garden and produced numerous healthy Coffea arabica bushes. In 1658 the Dutch first used them to begin coffee cultivation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and later in southern India. They abandoned this cultivation to focus on their Javanese plantations in order to avoid lowering the price by oversupply.

Within a few years, the Dutch colonies (Java in Asia, Suriname in the Americas) had become the main suppliers of coffee to Europe.

Source: Wikipedia