Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee by Stewart Lee Allen

The delightful premise of chasing down a cup of coffee around the world is not enough to rescue the tone of this food history and travelogue, which looks at its human subjects with detached amusement at best and outright harshness at its worst. The author labels India “dirty, undereducated, lazy, muddled, poor etc.” and mocks Islam as a religion that “insists half the species walk about with a bag over their head…” The writing is supposed to be “sardonic” — I can’t believe the empathetic Anthony Bourdain actually endorsed this book — but it’s just the white gaze cloaked as humor. Just like bad coffee, it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

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