A wake-up call about caffeine from a committed and self-interested author.
Formerly a newspaper journalist in Russia who consumed enormous amounts of coffee and cigarettes, Kushner relocated to New York City during the early '90s. Shortly thereafter, she learned she suffered from Celiac disease, a genetic disorder that was perhaps exacerbated by products containing caffeine. She researched caffeine substitutes, none of them suiting her tastes. And she discovered that certain substitutes contain gluten, another substance that those with Celiac cannot tolerate. Thus, she "invented" soy coffee and uses this book as her marketing platform. It's frequently informative, though, once the the text moves beyond pure publicity. For instance, she mentions that England's King Charles II attempted to shutter coffeehouses in 1675 because men tended to neglect their families while staying out to consume caffeine. Widespread protest, though, defeated the ban; the Boston Tea Party of 1773 resulted in the consumption of coffee as a patriotic duty; the world's first espresso machine began making noise in France in 1882; Maxwell House coffee is named after a Nashville hotel; US coffee sales boomed during the 1920s thanks to Prohibition; the US imported 70 percent of the world’s coffee crop at the beginning of WWII; Starbucks opened its first store in Seattle in 1971. These are just a few pieces of coffee trivia the author offers. She also briefly discusses the history of the American addiction to caffeine, explaining the chemistry of the substance, listing specific health threats (heart disease, central-nervous-system disorders, ulcers, cancer) and mapping out specific routes to end dependency. Unfortunately, though, the style interferes with the substance, as the tone is often shrill and alarmist. An appendix titled "Make a Difference!" is the call to action here, urging readers to petition the FDA for fuller disclosure among coffee manufacturers of specific product caffeine levels.
Full of interesting factoids–-but the blatant advertising for Kushner's products is pervasive to the point the book becomes soporific.