Written by Hanna Neuschwander, who began her career in coffee as a barista, and who has since judged numerous barista competitions, and penned books and articles about coffee, Left Coast Roast is a must-read for anyone who enjoys learning more about the U.S. coffee culture.
It’s like a Zagat guide, travel guide, drinking guide all wrapped up into one. Hanna Neuschwander’s newest book, Left Coat Roast gives readers a brief, but informative and intriguing, run-down of roasters along the west coast – from San Francisco to Seattle.
Starting with a brief primer on coffee, Neuschwander takes the reader into the world of coffee, explaining the terms that one may encounter when frequenting these establishments. She then glides you through the a timeline of coffee production, then deposits you gently into roasting and brewing, where the book takes off on its journey up and down the west coast.
Starting in the San Francisco Bay area, where some of the country’s first espresso bars appeared, Neuschwander highlights the young and the old – noting Northern California’s innovators and leaders in the specialty coffee world — from Blue Bottle to Peet’s, and everyone in between. After a brief trip along California’s coast, she heads up to Oregon, where she notes how the newer roasters in Portland represent the city’s “DIY, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude about them.” You’ll be taken on an alphabetical tour of the city’s roasters – old and new — from Boyd Coffee Company to Water Avenue Coffee Company. From there, you visit other notable roasting cities in the state before landing in Washington, where the culture of coffee, espresso, and dark roasts is thoroughly entrenched. Starting in Seattle, she highlights the Italian tradition found at Caffe de Arte and pays homage to David Schomer (and his Espresso Vivace) who Neuschwander aptly says is “Perhaps more responsible than any other individual in the U.S. for elevating espresso to an art.”
Along the way, each entry gives readers quick stats on the roaster: location, when they began roasting, how much they roast, and the like. When your journey through the book is complete, the reader will have a solid grasp of what you will expect from the world of coffee. If you love coffee, and won’t settle for mediocrity, go ahead and grab a copy of West Coast Roast. Try them all, dog ear your favorites, and be sure to go back for more.