A Rich and Tantalizing Brew

A History of How Coffee Connected the World
Jeanette M. Fregulia
194 pages, 6 × 9, 16 images, index
March 2019
Available In:

Paper: $20.96 $27.95 (978-1-68226-087-6)
Cloth: $54.21 $74.95 (978-1-68226-086-9)


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The history of coffee is much more than the tale of one luxury good—it is a lens through which to consider various strands of world history, from food and foodways to religion and economics and sociocultural dynamics.

A Rich and Tantalizing Brew traces the history of coffee from its cultivation and brewing first as a private pleasure in the highlands of Ethiopia and Yemen through its emergence as a sought-after public commodity served in coffeehouses first in the Muslim world, and then traveling across the Mediterranean to Italy, to other parts of Europe, and finally to India and the Americas. At each of these stops the brew gathered ardent aficionados and vocal critics, all the while reshaping patterns of socialization.

Taking its conversational tone from the chats often held over a steaming cup, A Rich and Tantalizing Brew offers a critical and entertaining look at how this bitter beverage, with a little help from the tastes that traveled with it—chocolate, tea, and sugar—has connected people to each other both within and outside of their typical circles, inspiring a new context for sharing news, conducting business affairs, and even plotting revolution.

Funded in part by The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

Jeanette M. Fregulia is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

“Jeanette M. Fregulia has written a beautifully woven history of coffee, bringing together its social, spiritual, economic, and aesthetic roles with elegance and exceptional scholarship. This book is a must for scholars, students, and lovers of the ‘rich and tantalizing brew’ alike. It will become standard reading for anyone interested in understanding how coffee became one of the most beloved commodities on the planet.”
—Nancy Stockdale, University of North Texas

Series Editors’ Preface
Preface: A Personal Journey to Coffee
Introduction – One Bean, Many Histories
Chapter 1 – Desert to Sea: Coffee, History, and Place
Chapter 2 – Sociability, Chemistry, and Coffee’s Eastern Origins
Chapter 3 – Coffee Crosses the Mediterranean
Chapter 4 – Coffee and the World of Commodities
Chapter 5 – Anxieties about Coffee
Chapter 6 – Coffee and New Patterns of Socialization
Chapter 7 – Coffee and Modernity
Conclusion – Just the Grounds

Food and Foodways is a series from the University of Arkansas Press that explores historical and contemporary topics in global food studies. We are committed to representing a diverse set of voices that tell lesser known food stories and to provoking new avenues of interdisciplinary research. Our strengths are works in the humanities and social sciences that use food as a critical lens to examine broader cultural, environmental, and ethical issues. In addition to scholarly books, we publish creative nonfiction that explores these topics with a focus on food’s sensory dimensions.

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