Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe @ScreamingMagpie #coffee #bookreview

Today’s team review comes from Suraya, find her at http://www.thestorymint.com

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Suraya chose to read and review From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh

Review for

From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe

By Robert Leigh

 

Here’s a fact about coffee. Starbucks sells 3,861,778,846 cups per year. Consider all the other companies that sell coffee and that is an extraordinary amount of coffee circulating in the world economy. Here are a couple more statistics. Finland tops the coffee consumption chart at 9.6 kg per capita per year and Americans average almost one cup a day, slightly less than New Zealand.

So if you, like me, drink coffee and have never given much thought to the journey it has made from plantation to your cup this is the book for you and shame on you (and me) for taking such an important commodity for granted.

Robert Leigh, author of From Lime Street to Yigacheffe is subtitled, ‘a true story of sorts’.

It was definitely more an account of a trip to Ethiopia to follow the coffee trail than fiction so I would say it is a true story rather than one ‘of sorts’. It read more like a travelogue with commentary about the social story behind coffee’s journey from plantation to cup. He may have qualified his story in order to duck around some of his social and political commentary. There was not much political comment but there was a considerable amount about social conditions in Ethiopia.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with Robert and his host through Ethiopia to the coffee plantations and processing factories. What really amazed me was the amount of work done by hand, not mechanised. He is somewhat dismayed by the young people working long days at this gruelling, mind numbing, processing work.

At some point in the process, each seed is graded by hand. Yes, Robert very early in his account points out that what we call beans are in fact ‘seeds’.

One of the things about this book that I thoroughly enjoyed were the descriptions of the Ethiopian landscape, the people’s social life and even that they operate to a calendar with 13 months in the year.

It was a journey into a way of life where rich and poor sit side by side.

This quote captures that: “The dark may have dampened detail, but the juxtaposition of rich and poor was still clear – the single light hanging above the corrugated door of the shanty, the shanty drowned in the light of the hotel or the apartment block looming above.” (108)

Our daily cups of coffee make many people wealthy. However, if we go to the source there is a lot we could do to improve the lot of the grower who feeds our addiction.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable insight into the life of the coffee seed.

4.5 stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by @ScreamingMagpie #Coffee #Bookreview

Today’s second team review comes from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Terry chose to read and review From Lime Street To Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh

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From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe by Robert Leigh

4 out of 5 stars

In November 2013, Robert Leigh travelled to Ethiopia with a brief to write a paper on the country’s coffee industry.  Leigh takes us on a 6000km journey from Lime Street Station in Liverpool to Addis Ababa, through the Rift Valley and on to the southern region of Yirgacheffe.

Not having been anywhere much myself, I love to read travel memoirs about faraway places and lifestyles so different to my own. I found Robert Leigh’s descriptions of life in Ethiopia fascinating, and the workings of the coffee industry out there equally so, though the system by which the farmers are forced to sell their produce is an absolute scandal; however, I am reviewing this book, not the industry – that was Leigh’s job! His portrayal of characters he meets, his driver, Sammi, the charming Endale and other incidental ones added colour to the account. What I liked about this book was the observations about the life of the ordinary people out there; it was a real education.

Although I read the book avidly because the subject matter interested me so much, I found the writing rather flat at times with the inclusion of mundane detail that did not add to the story. How the author came about getting the job was a sensible start, but every detail of his checking through customs, ordering a cup of coffee, etc, was finely described. I never knew what John, the guide throughout the trip, was actually like, because his reported conversation was so information heavy. Having said this, though, I felt Leigh got into his stride in the second half of the book, when it becomes looser, more ‘real’ and more amusing.

Despite my slight reservations, I’d recommend this book if you have any interest in the subject; it taught me a lot. My only other disappointment came when I told my husband about it; he’s a coffee snob – whoops, sorry, I mean a coffee connoisseur – and, when I began to (proudly) relate what I had learned he said, “Oh yeah, Yirgacheffe, there’s some in the cupboard.” He even knew all about the difference between the dark and light roast. Oh well!

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com