Coffee in Fiction

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a measure of how important coffee is to our culture that it makes so many appearances in fiction. Possibly the most famous example is Agatha Christie’s popular play Black Coffee, first staged in the 1930s, and so-called as a cup of black coffee turns out to be the murder weapon! Here’s a selection of the thousands of other books and plays inspired by this iconic drink.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss

This historical novel, set in Amsterdam in the 1690s, follows the fortunes of Lienzo, a Portuguese exile. Lienzo, struggling to make a living as a trader on the stock exchange, stumbles across a novel new commodity – coffee beans. He’s all set to make his fortune, but there are many twists and turns ahead as other traders try to muscle in.

Atmospheric and with a great sense of place, the novel contains a wealth of historical detail about the introduction of coffee into Western Europe, making it an interesting read for both coffee lovers and fans of historical thrillers.

The Various Flavours of Coffee, by Anthony Capella

Another historical novel, The Various Flavours of Coffee is set two centuries later in 1895. The down-on-his-luck hero, Robert Wallis, is employed by coffee merchant Samuel Pinker to differentiate and catalogue the different flavours of coffee. With the action taking place partly in London and partly in Abyssinia, the book’s characters and story are set against the context of the all-important coffee bean trade.

Coffee by Thomas Sephakis

Set in modern-day New York, this contemporary novel explores the concept of free will versus destiny, and poses the question of whether any of us really want to know about our own future. In a quirky plotline, hero Tom Barry has the opportunity to ask God some searching questions when he encounters Him working in a coffee shop.

Fresh Brewed: Tales from the Coffee Bar by Henry Myerson

This book contains eleven short plays, all of which are set in the same coffee bar. The use of a single static location unifies the otherwise different storylines, and provides continuity throughout – a coffee bar being one of the few realistic locations where such a diverse range of emotions could play out.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle

US author Cleo Coyle is clearly a caffeine junkie, basing her whole series of thirteen murder mystery books around coffee. With punning titles as Roast Mortem and A Brew to a Kill, the reader can expect lots of coffee facts and tips wound in with their mystery.