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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee & Tea - Review

The Breakdown: From Lipton to Gunpowder

by Travis Arndorfer and Kristine Hansen

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee & Tea

Perusing this book caused in us a slightly schizophrenic craving for both a cappuccino and a cup of Earl Grey. We can’t quite decide. We want them both; so kudos to the authors of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee & Tea for succeeding — entirely without the help of pretty pictures — to bring to life two of our favorite topics without dumbing them down. You see, while this book is aimed at the neophyte, even someone who has sampled these brews around the world will be pleased. Finally, someone addresses the reason why a cappuccino in the U.S. tastes nothing like one in Milan! (We "supersize everything" and add way more milk than the Italians do.) And why coffee preferences vary even within the U.S. (The West Coast likes it stronger.)

By the time you’re done with the tea chapters, you’ll be comfortable with terminology like flush, tisane and "low" afternoon tea. No matter which is your beverage of choice, this book will show you how to save hundreds of dollars spent at the local chain and instead make your own tasty drinks at home. So whether you grew up on Folgers and Lipton and just recently had your first caramel macchiato or cup of Pur-eh, or if you were nursed on Arabica and gunpowder and are an old pro, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee & Tea is a delightful pick-me-up.

Reviewed by Sylvie Greil

(Updated: 11/21/12 DM)