The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella is an engrossing, first-rate historical novel that follows the life and loves of Robert Wallis, a bohemian would-be poet whose life is dramatically changed by a cup of coffee. In 1896, the 22 year-old Wallis is living in London, frequenting coffeehouses and whorehouses and affecting a dandy's style although he has no income. One morning, a coffee merchant overhears his remark to a waiter that his coffee is “rusty” and offers him a job to help develop a standard “vocabulary of coffee.” Accepting the challenge, Wallis embarks on a journey in the coffee trade that will transform his life.
In Amsterdam in 1659, as in most of Europe, coffee is virtually unknown. Merchants of the Dutch East India Company have done a little trading in coffee, but most residents of Amsterdam have never seen it, let alone tasted it. Miguel Lienzo, a Portuguese Jew who fled to Amsterdam to escape the Inquisition, is among them, although he is a well-connected trader on the Exchange. When Miguel is offered an opportunity to build his fortune through a bold scheme to corner the coffee market, he can’t resist, despite the many risks. The Coffee Trader makes 17th century Europe come alive in an engrossing, suspenseful tale of coffee intrigue.