Exciting news! Market Lane’s co-founder, co-director and coffee expert Jason Scheltus has written a book about his/our/everyone’s favourite beverage. Coffee: from Bean to the Perfect Brew is an easy-to-read, easy-to-love, comprehensive, illustrated collection of Jason’s coffee knowledge…“so far”.
Before the Pulitzer people come a’knocking and Scott Rudin buys the film rights, we nabbed Jason for a sit-down chat about why he wrote this fantastic book and who he wrote it for.
What motivated you to write this book?
One of the biggest motivators was to show coffee the way I see it. In one sense, coffee is a small daily pleasure that we enjoy, and that’s made and consumed in astonishingly similar ways around the world. I wanted to celebrate coffee’s simplicity and joy – the fact that it’s something uncomplicated that so many people can afford to enjoy, share and participate in.
There are also deeply complex social issues involved in coffee production. Some of the complexities are caused by a huge global production that utilises/is dependent on a small portion of the coffee plant gene pool. In the book I explain why that’s risky. There is also a stark economic and social contrast between coffee growers in producing countries and consumers in developed countries. I wanted to explore all this in a straightforward and hopefully compelling way.
My other motivation was to create an enjoyable, accessible book that helps readers/coffee drinkers learn how to select good beans and make good coffee at home. (Or, at the very least, explains the differences between all the beverages on the café menu.) When I first started my journey in coffee, there were a number of publications and lectures available, but simple, easy-to-understand information was scarce. I hope this book will contribute to the conversation, and will offer helpful tips to people who are starting their own coffee journey.
Who do you think this book is perfect for? Can you give some insight into what the book covers?
The book is aimed at people who are interested in coffee, but don’t necessarily know a lot about it. My hope is that anyone at all could pick it up, find it engaging, and have a richer insight into coffee by the end. That said, I have been careful to discuss as precisely as possible the more complicated aspects of coffee production – like certifications and roasting – so I believe that industry professionals will learn a few things about coffee they may not have known.
The book covers the journey of coffee – from a brief history of production and cultivation to processing methods and the transformation of coffee from a small cherry to an exportable green bean. There’s a decent section on roasting, because it’s such a big part of the transformation of coffee, and then some pointers to help consumers select coffee for themselves. For example, what different regional characteristics one might look for, and what certifications and roast types people should choose. Finally, I’ve included some recipes and descriptions of a few common espresso and filter drinks. It’s not a list of every drink under the sun, but a few of my personal favourites to get people brewing.
The illustrations are beautiful - can you tell us more about the artist?
After taking many trips to coffee-producing countries, I started to become interested in Central American cuisine. That’s when I discovered Daniella Germain’s book My Abuela’s Table. It’s filled with wonderful recipes and gorgeous illustrations. When I began to think about writing Coffee: from Bean to the Perfect Brew, I knew immediately that I wanted Daniella on board, and was so pleased when she agreed. Her visual style brings a lightness and simplicity to the book that photographs or more technical drawings wouldn’t have been able to capture. I loved working with Daniella, and her illustrations ultimately make the book a richer, more rewarding reading experience.