What is this elixir that fuels our destiny? Stewart Lee Allen's insatiable, unquenchable thirst for the answer carries him across forbidden borders and several continents as he pursues the precious and little-known catalytic effect of the ambrosial brew upon world empires and mankind. He also documents the unconscionable attempts to suppress coffee. With Paris one vast cafe, for instance, Napoleon banned coffee, but then was summarily overthrown and exiled. His last request: a cup of St. Helena's best. Likewise, Germany's long anti-coffee campaigns have kept java from offering its solace to the lower classes. In 1930 German workers voted Adolph Hitler into power.
In America the military tried for fifty years to produce an easily brewed cup for battlefield use, and did. The perfection of instant coffee triggered a 3,000 percent jump in consumption during World War I and stimulated the rise of the United States to world-class power.
Stewart Lee Allen plied the oceans by freighter and traversed several continents by air and rail and foot to chronicle coffee's civilizing impact upon human endeavor. He lives out of a suitcase and is gone, adventuring, at a moment's notice.