by Augustine Sedgewick

The epic story of how coffee connected and divided the modern world

Coffee is an indispensable part of daily life for billions of people around the world–one of the most valuable commodities in the history of global capitalism, the leading source of the world’s most popular drug, and perhaps the most widespread word on the planet. Augustine Sedgewick’s Coffeeland tells the hidden and surprising story of how this came to be, tracing coffee’s five-hundred-year transformation from a mysterious Muslim ritual into an everyday necessity.

This story is one that few coffee drinkers know. It centers on the volcanic highlands of El Salvador, where James Hill, born in the slums of Manchester, England, founded one of the world’s great coffee dynasties at the turn of the twentieth century. Adapting the innovations of the Industrial Revolution to plantation agriculture, Hill helped to turn El Salvador into perhaps the most intensive monoculture in modern history, a place of extraordinary productivity, inequality, and violence.

Interview with the Author

Inside the ICE House
Episode 172: Professor Augustine Sedgewick on the Centuries – old Drama Behind a Cup of Coffee
4/26/20      57 min

Who Makes Cents? A History of Capitalism Podcast
Episode 68: Augustine Sedgewick on the Dark Empire of Coffee
7/1/20      43 min

Smarty Pants
#128: Trouble Brewing
5/8/20       19 min


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