Book Review: The Coffee Dictionary by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood

The Coffee Dictionary is a useful tool for navigating the world of coffee and all its terminology. For the newcomer to specialty coffee drinking, or anyone with an interest in coffee more generally, sometimes the various terms used can be a little overwhelming. The Coffee Dictionary, as it says in the title, provides an A-Z of coffee from growing and roasting, to brewing and tasting. Written by owner of Colonna Coffee, former UK Barista Champion, and co-author of Water for Coffee, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, this book helps to demystify some of the terms and provide a helpful guide to different aspects of the coffee industry.

I wouldn’t usually read a dictionary cover to cover, as usually they are more useful as reference guide, but actually this one is quite easily read all the way through. Entries are short, punchy and often accompanied by nice illustrations which very much help this feel less like a standard dictionary. This is likely to appeal to anyone with an interest in coffee, who might want to understand a little more about the terms and definitions that are used both regularly and rarely. Even for those who consider themselves to be well versed in coffee-lingo there’s likely to be something here than enhances their knowledge – I found the entries on some of the different coffee varieties like Castillo useful. There are entries on most things across the coffee supply chain from processing methods to brewing methods. There are also quite a few entries on countries, and while they are interesting, the short nature means there is little room for detail – nevertheless it highlights some of the important countries in the global coffee industry. If you’ve heard words related to coffee you don’t understand, or just want to learn a bit more about different aspects of the coffee industry, then this is a god book to have on hand.

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