3 Coffee Books Every Barista Needs to Read

Although baristas at craft coffee shops tend to be inordinately educated for a service industry job, last time we checked there’s no Coffee Preparation and Extraction Theory major at your local state university. Which means if you want to be a competent barista or home brewer, you need to do your own research. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of coffee books to supplement your coffee education.

Espresso Extraction: Measurement and Mastery 

Scott Rao

Coffee books Scott RaoScott Rao’s latest book builds on the foundation laid in his classic books The Professional Barista’s Handbook and Everything But Espresso. Whether it be extraction percentages, pressure profiling, or portafilter design, Rao leaves no stone unturned in this concise but weighty volume. Perhaps James Hoffmann’s endorsement says it best.

 I think it is worth reading, and I think that if you want to excel as a barista then (in an ideal world) knowing this content inside and out should be required.

Espresso Extraction is only available as an ebook, but the quality content completely justifies buying a Kindle (at least that’s what I told my wife).

God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

 Michaele Weissman

god in a cup book

God in a Cup is the closest thing the specialty coffee industry has to a general introduction for a popular audience. The book follows Weissmann’s coffee journey, from DC’s legendary (now defunct) Murky Coffee to interviews with coffee luminaries such as Peter Giuliano and Intelligentsia’s President Doug Zell. For a fairly new barista, this volume helped me grow in appreciation for where the specialty coffee industry has come from and where it is going. My favorite chapter involves Stumptown’s founder Duane Sorenson offering Weissmann a hit of his bong. We can only assume it was a coffee-flavored hookah.

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

Danny Meyers

Setting the Table Danny Meyer

Okay, this one isn’t about coffee per se, but hospitality- the key theme of Meyer’s New York Times best selling book- is incredibly pertinent for coffee professionals. We all know the stereotype of the pretentious barista looms large in popular college, but hospitality has the power to turn a great cup of coffee into a great coffee experience. Thankfully, Meyers is an experienced guide who openly divulges all the secrets of his incredible success. But mostly, we’ll listen to anything the founder of Shake Shack has to say.


7 thoughts on “3 Coffee Books Every Barista Needs to Read

    1. Hi Michael So glad I found this post and your recommendation. Finished the book over the holidays. It was a great ‘time capsule’ of what was going on a few years ago. I found it very interesting.

      I particularly found all of the politics between cooperatives, politicians, farmers and exporters. Way more complex than just going to the store and buying a bag of beans.

      I was in Chicago for the day last week, walked out of the train station and 2 stores down was Intelligentsia. So I stopped in. The rest of the group was not excited to have to wait for me to get a pour over. But they did and it was a good experience.

      My level of coffee interest had really gone up this past year after getting a decent grinder. Then a few months ago I started a coffee site and now all my spare time I am trying new coffee and starting to do some gear reviews.

      Are you still at Quills? A neighbor brought over some San Cristobal. Good Stuff!

      I was going to buy some more but it was not available online. Is this a local only purchase?

      Thanks! — Steven

      1. Hey Steven,

        I’m glad you enjoyed the book! I’m also glad you enjoyed San Cristobal. I’m actually using the last of it in the Big Eastern barista competition, which is why you don’t see it online anymore. Hopefully we will get that coffee again next year!

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