Top 5 Coffee Books For Beginners

Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by smiling-coffee-snob

If you really want to learn about coffee, a good book is one of the best ways to do it. While videos are helpful for things like brewing tutorials and choosing equipment, a book will give you a more thorough understanding of coffee as a whole.

But, which coffee book should you read?

Since the right book depends on your preferences there isn’t one perfect book I can recommend. But, one of these five will be a good starting point for most people. To help you choose the right one, I’ll give an overview of what each is about and what type of coffee lover is most likely to enjoy it.

(Disclaimer: These are all personal recommendations and nothing is sponsored. However, the links are affiliate links and if you buy through them I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you).

The Coffee Dictionary

I’m starting things off with The Coffee Dictionary because it’s different from all the other books. It’s primarily a reference book which is extremely helpful when you find a coffee term that you don’t know. For example, if you get a new bag of coffee that say’s it was honey processed and you don’t know what that means. Just check your dictionary and you’ll have your answer.

While this is primarily a reference, it could also serve as a basic introduction to coffee. The entries are short and to the point with beautiful illustrations throughout the book. It’s also short enough to read all the way through if you want to.

Who’s this book for?

I think this is a useful reference for anyone who’s interested enough in coffee to read this article. If you want a very basic introduction to coffee it’s great for that, but it can also serve as a general reference to complement the longer books I recommend below.

The New Rules Of Coffee

While The Coffee Dictionary is a great reference for most coffee terms, The New Rules of Coffee is an introduction to modern coffee culture. It’s written as a set of rules to guide you through coffee both at home and out in the world.

It’s short and easy to read, but it’s more thorough than the dictionary, but less so than the other books. There’s also a lot more about cafe culture than the other books. While you will still learn the basics about coffee, the section about cafes and their place in the coffee world stands out from the others.

Who’s this book for?

If you want to learn more about coffee, but are more into cafes than home brewing this is the perfect introduction. Compared to the other books, it’s more about the culture surrounding coffee than the details of roasting and brewing it.

The World Atlas Of Coffee

The World Atlas of Coffee is an in-depth, but still beginner friendly guide to the world of coffee—well, as close as a single book can get. James Hoffmann is now a well known YouTuber, but before that he was known for this book. He starts by introducing you to coffee as a plant and slowly expands to the rest of the coffee world.

You will learn about the major coffee species, common growing and processing methods and the primary growing regions, along with country profiles. You will also learn about all the different methods of brewing coffee at home, plus advice about buying, roasting and storing coffee.

Who’s this book for?

The aspiring home brewer who wants to know all about every aspect of coffee. While this won’t teach you everything, it will introduce you to most aspects of growing, buying, roasting and brewing coffee. If you want to take things to the next level, such as home roasting or espresso brewing, you’ll have a solid foundation to build on.

The Blue Bottle Craft Of Coffee

If you’re not familiar with Blue Bottle Coffee, they’re a Bay Area coffee roaster that has grown into one of the most popular specialty coffee companies in the world. They have written this book as a mix of their own story, what they have learned about coffee over the years and some of their favorite recipes.

While the general coffee information shares a lot of similarities to other coffee books, Blue Bottle has always insisted on doing things their own way which makes for a unique perspective. The difference that stands out to me is the heavy influence of Japanese coffee culture. Because of this, their brewing recipes are a little different and they get more into brewing cloth filters—called the nel drip in Japan.

Who’s this book for?

Like all the other books it offers a great basic introduction to the world of specialty coffee. But, anyone familiar with Blue Bottle or Japanese coffee culture will appreciate it the most. It’s also a good choice for anyone that likes darker roasts. They get more into how brewing dark roasts differs from lighter ones—a rarity in specialty coffee.

Craft Coffee

I’ve saved Craft Coffee for last because it straddles the line between beginner and intermediate books. It’s also heavily focused on brewing coffee at home with just the basics about coffee in general.

You will learn detailed information about every aspect of the brewing process, such as water, grind ratios and how coffee flavor extraction works. There are detailed guides to multiple coffee brewers and recipes for each one. There is also a lot of information about understanding the flavors in coffee and how to describe them.

Who’s this book for?

This is the ultimate guide for the aspiring home coffee brewer. This will teach you everything you need to know about coffee science, choosing the right gear for your needs and the art of coffee brewing. It will also be a valuable guide to buying coffee, tasting coffee and clearly identifying what you like.

Which coffee book is right for you?

Hopefully, this has made it obvious which book is right for you. While there are a lot of different coffee books out there, I consider these five the best for beginners and each one is a little different. Whichever one (or more) that you choose, I’m sure you’ll gain a new appreciation for coffee—and the skills to brew it like a barista.