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Coffee Culture

Local Experiences, Global Connections

By Catherine M. Tucker

Routledge – 2011 – 160 pages

Series: Routledge Series for Creative Teaching and Learning in Anthropology

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $35.95
    December 12th 2010
  • Add to CartHardback: $150.00
    December 13th 2010


"The Anthropology of Stuff" is part of a new Series dedicated to innovative, unconventional ways to connect undergraduate students and their lived concerns about our social world to the power of social science ideas and evidence. Our goal with the project is to help spark social science imaginations and in doing so, new avenues for meaningful thought and action. Each "Stuff" title is a short (100 page) "mini text" illuminating for students the network of people and activities that create their material world.

From the coffee producers and pickers who tend the plantations in tropical nations, to the middlemen and processors, to the consumers who drink coffee without ever having to think about how the drink reached their hands, here is a commodity that ties the world together. This is a great little book that helps students apply anthropological concepts and theories to their everyday lives, learn how historical events and processes have shaped the modern world and the contexts of their lives, and how consumption decisions carry ramifications for our health, the environment, the reproduction of social inequality, and the possibility of supporting equity, sustainability and social justice.


"Coffee Culture is more than a compilation of great perspectives regarding the cultural anthropology and political ecology of the world's most popular drink. It is also the perfect lens through which to show students and activists alike the complexities of shifting the production and promotion of any commodity toward sustainability and food justice."—Gary Nabhan, Southwest Studies Center, University of Arizona

"This book is an excellent overview of the world of coffee, and a perfect exemplar of the ideas of the Anthropology of Stuff series. Coffee Culture is ideally suited for use in courses on 'stuff'—commodities in the modern globalized economy. Though designed for course use, it would be great reading just as a way of keeping up on one of the world's favorite drinks."—Eugene Anderson, Anthropology, University of California, Riverside

"'Stuff' matters, especially in our increasingly material world, and few commodities matter quite as much as Coffee. Catherine Tucker’s Coffee Culture provides a brilliant, broad-ranging and engaging introduction to just why this is the case. She reveals the dark side of coffee (along with some rays of hope) and its complex interconnection with everything from world history, social class, and commodification, to the Internet, sex, and fair trade."—Gavin Fridell, Politics, Trent University

"Professors of introductory cultural anthropology are always searching for ways to make anthropology stimulating and relevant for students….Routledge has embarked on a parallel series of short monographs ('Series for Creative Teaching and Learning in Anthropology') that takes a fresh approach, provocatively described as 'The Anthropology of Stuff.' These first two books provide promising beginnings to the series, affirming anthropology as the study of people and the everyday 'stuff' that surrounds us….given an undergraduate readership that consumes coffee in great quantities, thisbook will find an enthusiastic audience." —C. R. Yano, University of Hawaii, Recommended title, CHOICE

"Overall, Coffee Culture provides an excellent combination of historical narrative, information about sustainable practices for growing and processing coffee beans, and a convincing argument that Americans need to recognize the damage that our coffee culture is causing to the individuals, economies, and environments of coffee-producing nations."Jan 2012 Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews Volume 41. Number 1

"Professor Catherine Tucker’s Coffee Culture is a fascinating book because it reveals so many unnoticed dimensions about an apparently inoffensive commodity, which confirms why social sciences such as anthropology are relevant."Yves Laberge, Centr'ERE, in Electronic Green Journal


Part One: Coffee Culture, Social Life and Global History 1. Culture, Caffeine, and Coffee Shops 2. Theories of Food and Social Meanings of Coffee 3. Coffee Culture, History, and Media in Coca-Cola Land 4. Tracing Coffee Connections 5. Coffee and the Rise of the World System 6. Coffee, the Industrial Revolution, and Body Discipline Part Two: Accolades and Antipathies: Coffee Controversies through Time 7. Coffee Controversies and Threats to Social Order 8. National Identities and Cultural Relevance 9. Hot and Bothered: Coffee and Caffeine Humor 10. Is Coffee Good or Bad for You? Debates over Physical and Mental Health Effects Part Three: Coffee Production and Processing 11. Planting and Caring for Coffee 12. Harvesting, Processing, and Inequality 13. Environmental Sustainability of Coffee Production 14. Environmental Conundrums of Coffee Processing Part Four: Markets and the Modern World System 15. Market Volatility and Social Calamity 16. Efforts to Mitigate the Coffee Cycle and the Distribution of Power 17. A Brief History of Fair Trade 18. Conundrums of Fair Trade Coffee: Building Equity or Reinventing Subjugation?

Author Bio

Catherine M. Tucker is a sociocultural and ecological anthropologist at Indiana University

Name: Coffee Culture: Local Experiences, Global Connections (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: By Catherine M. Tucker. "The Anthropology of Stuff" is part of a new Series dedicated to innovative, unconventional ways to connect undergraduate students and their lived concerns about our social world to the power of social science ideas and evidence. Our goal with...
Categories: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Social & Cultural Anthropology