Monday, June 14, 2010

The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella

In his 2nd novel, The Various Flavours of Coffee, the author draws you into the rich and decadent world of the late 1890’s Victorian England where merchants were amassing fortunes in the trading of coffees and other exotic imports. With attention to historical accuracy, Anthony Capella describes London during this time as one of have and have-not so vividly that you can almost smell the rot in the streets, the unwashed humanity and the open markets and food stalls.

Robert, the aspiring writer-turned coffee apprentice, is an extravagant dandy who accepts an unusual job offer. Working alongside Emily, his employers’ daughter, he learns about the fine art of roasting, cupping and writing “The Guide” that describes the various flavours of coffee. This seemingly innocent task leads him into dangerous and exciting travels to Africa and back.

Through his eyes, we see how Europeans supported the slave trade and colonization of indigenous people. We also see the suffering of women in London during their struggle to gain the vote. Various Flavours of Coffee is a delicious read but is very graphic and at times disturbing. It is a like a caffeine-induced rush through an era of history that has changed the world as we know it.

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