The Various Flavors of Coffee
Bantam, Aug 2008, $22.00
In 1896, twentyish Robert Wallis is a poet who prefers to lay back and do nothing. When he does work he is known for his excessive hyperbole. Coffee maker Samuel Pinker decides that Wallis is the perfect author to write a glowing guide to coffee beans that the entrepreneur believes will help his business thrive so he hires the laziest poet in London.
When Wallis meets his employer’s daughter Emily, he decides he wants her and courts her with charming ditties. However, Pinker, worried about his daughter, dispatches the writer on a world tour of coffee beans. The expedition broadens his horizon as the apolitical aloof Wallis gets involved with social issues like slavery and suffrage.
Wallis makes this superb historical tale from the start as he changes from a selfish indifferent young man into a caring thoughtful person. Readers will appreciate his adventures in finding a good cup of coffee by tasting the various flavors offered around the world. Filled with fascinating yet plausible twists, Wallis gains an education yet underneath his escapades the foundation of the plot is the Abyssinian proverb that “When a woman gives a man coffee, it is a way of showing desire”.