20 September 2020

Book Review: The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

I didn't expect this book to be that engaging, but it turns out it was a page turner. And it wasn't even fiction. This is the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni American man from San Francisco, who chased a dream. A dream which included going back to where the story of coffee begins, in the Yemeni heartland, and exporting it for the world to consume. And yes, it wasn't an easy path.

In this book, I learned a lot about coffee. I am not a coffee dilettante, I cannot tell a good coffee from an average one. But after reading this book, I have a little bit more appreciation to the cup that I get every now and then from a coffee shop. See, this book gives you a brief history of coffee, and how it became a drink that changed the world. It also tells you how to approach coffee in a quantitative and scientific way, how to talk using coffee terms, how to evaluate it. And of course, it tells you how Mokhtar Alkhanshali chased his dream and achieved what seemed to be impossible.

This book was definitely written in a very engaging manner. I definitely had a hard time putting it down. And it was definitely cinematically dramatic. I especially appreciate how the author successfully put himself outside of the narrative, even though gathering material for this book definitely involved a lot of interviews and direct contact with the characters mentioned in the book. The focus was definitely on Mokhtar, and the writing style made me feel like I was with Mokhtar in his trips, as he was surveying the Yemeni farms, as he was crossing the Red Sea in a little dinghy.

Overall, I found a lot of interesting things I learned while reading this book. It was definitely very captivating, and is something I would recommend. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

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