The Various Flavours of Coffee, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


It is 1895. Robert Wallis, would-be poet, bohemian and impoverished dandy, accepts a commission from coffee merchant Samuel Pinker to categorise the different tastes of coffee - and encounters Pinker's free-thinking daughters, Philomenia, Ada and Emily.

As romance blossoms with Emily, Robert realises that the Muse and marriage may not be incompatible after all.

Sent to Abyssinia to make his fortune in the coffee trade, he becomes obsessed with a negro slave girl, Fikre.

He decides to use the money he has saved to buy her from her owner - a decision that will change not only his own life, but the lives of the three Pinker sisters ...




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A romance from the man's viewpoint. It's a bit predictable in places but this story of Robert Wallis, a struggling poet who accepts a commission from a coffee merchant, Pinker, to help compose a vocabulary of coffee, a way of describing the tastes, smells and other aspects of coffee. Along with him Pinker's Daughter Emily work on this and find themselves attracted.Pinker decides to send Robert off to see if he can succeed and if Emily will "get over" her attraction to him. He sends him to manage a coffee plantation in Africa. There Robert meets Fikre, a beautyful black slave, and falls in love. But things become more complicated and Robert finds himself in difficulty.This is quite an interesting story, if a little predictable, the characters occasionally seem to be going through the motions without any real feeling of depth. I liked it but didn't love it, it's nearly a 4* read but not quite for me.