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Caffeine

How Caffeine Created the Modern World
Written by: Michael Pollan
Narrated by: Michael Pollan
Length: 2 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: Home & Garden, Food & Wine
4.5 out of 5 stars (213 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Michael Pollan, known for his best-selling nonfiction audio, including The Omnivores Dilemma and How to Change Your Mind, conceived and wrote Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World as an Audible Original. In this controversial and exciting listen, Pollan explores caffeine’s power as the most-used drug in the world - and the only one we give to children (in soda pop) as a treat.

Pollan takes us on a journey through the history of the drug, which was first discovered in a small part of East Africa and within a century became an addiction affecting most of the human species. Caffeine, it turns out, has changed the course of human history - won and lost wars, changed politics, dominated economies. What’s more, the author shows that the Industrial Revolution would have been impossible without it. The science of how the drug has evolved to addict us is no less fascinating. And caffeine has done all these things while hiding in plain sight! Percolated with Michael Pollan’s unique ability to entertain, inform, and perform, Caffeine is essential listening in a world where an estimated two billion cups of coffee are consumed every day.

©2019 Michael Pollan (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

What listeners say about Caffeine

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    5 out of 5 stars

Good, but short.

Almost felt like it should have been a podcast. Still lots of good information and as always he is enjoyable to listen to and or watch.

1 person found this helpful

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A simple diversion

What an enjoyable listen, telling a story, describing this drug we are every so reliant upon. While I learned little from this book, a majority of which can be surmised in CGP Grey's 4 minute YouTube video on the subject, I do find it uniquely addresses our relationship as a society and individuals. As well, the authors experience of giving up caffeine for several months is laudable and incredibly interesting, interspersed with the profound history of the bean/leaf. This will definitely become a frequent re-listen

1 person found this helpful

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Michael Pollan does it again.

I like the tempo of this story. I liked the historical tidbits as well as the scientific details. I especially like Michael Pollan reading the story and giving insight to his own experience. This was an enjoyable audiobook. Almost as uplifting as a cup of coffee.

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Not what i expected

its a history on caffeine no real coverage on effects to you except we are addicts.

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Michael Pollan tells a great story!

Using himself as a guinea pig by going off caffeine cold turkey for three months took guts! As he researched the history of caffeine, he included the good, the bad and the really ugly, including countries, like Britain using slavery, opium sales into China and whatever they could do to keep the money rolling in from the sales of coffee and tea. Nasty business! The author was quite self-deprecating, poking fun at himself, while going through caffeine withdrawal. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him reading his book. Hubby and I learned a lot!

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an excellent listen

He is a great writer, and I love that he performs it for the audio version. You won't be disappointed. I recommended your favorite style of coffee or tea, throwing on your head phones, getting to some chores and having a listen! that's what I did :)

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An awesome, brief history. Well worth the listen

The entire book was fantastic! my only complaint would be that the part of his story where he visits the coffee farm felt a little out of place, could have been before he finished his 3 month fast.

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A very sobering look at our morning cup of joe

As usual, Michael Pollan is very thoughtful in his writing. He has a pleasant reading voice. Not sure I can drink caffeine again though.

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It was alright

Mostly personal experience, not a nice thorough history of caffeine. Had some good points however I found it went on and on about his personal account from lack of caffeine too often inbetween the information.

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Such an important lesson

Admittedly, I’m already a fan of Pollan which renders my review somewhat bias. I particularly enjoyed how he writes in a personal journey complete with his own biases. The story itself is all about the good, the bad, the ugly of our favourite caffeine habits. This is quite an enjoyable and easy essay to listen to and it’s quite fascinating especially the history and ironies sound within.

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  • Melody H
  • 2020-02-02

Leaves much to be desired

I know this was free and, well, you get what you pay for; but this could have been awesome. Such a bummer this was so short and basically trivial information about coffee here and there but mostly just an essay of Mr. Pollan getting off caffeine than an actual study of it as the drug of choice in this country as the description would have you believe. Pollan is an amazing author, “In defense of food” transformed my life around food, so I guess I was hoping for something similar here but I guess that’s my expectations fault.

109 people found this helpful

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  • Taylor Britton
  • 2020-02-02

listened at x3 speed

i drank a couple cups of coffee and read this at x3 speed in under an hour.

74 people found this helpful

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  • Allyssia
  • 2020-01-31

All things considered, it’s a great option

I’m writing this review having on mind that some people might be considering if they should spend their one of their 2 monthly audible originals pick on this book. The answer is yes and I’m going to tell you why.
Despite the fact it’s quite a short book (only 2 hours), I’ve noticed this format is quite common among the selected audible originals they offer. Considering the time restriction it’s worth mentioning one thing: this book covers a LOT of topics, but only talk about each briefly. You’re not going to have a deep analysis on any of the following subjects, however, this is expected when we’re talking about a 2 hours book.

It all starts when the author, Michael Pollan, decides to try going without caffeine for a couple months. This made him reconsider his relation with caffeine and the impacts it had on our history. Along his journey, Michael explains why the beverage, chemically speaking, got so popular, and even links it to the golden age of Middle East, when math was heavily studied, and many findings were made. On the western world, the introduction of coffee made possible quite a lot of changes, that were essential to the development of our modern life, such as the introduction of night shifts, the increase of employer’s production and an augmented tolerance to long hours. As Michael says, it “helped create a new kind of worker”.

However, that wasn’t something entirely beneficial. In fact, the benefits of caffeine are frequently questioned even nowadays. Caffeine was already blamed on cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and even mental illnesses. In the past, the author tells us that there was even a pamphlet claiming that coffee was responsible for the decrease of men’s sexual interest and fertility. Finally, the author wisely points that “caffeine helps us to cope with the world caffeine helped to create”, refereeing to the more demanding work shifts and sleep issues, leaving us with a last question - who’s getting the best out of the human/coffee interaction? Us, or the plants, that shaped us into assuring their survival and massive spread? The answer is up to you.

I for sure recommend this book as a fun listening for your evening. It might not make you an expert on the topic, however, it will surely give you lots of new information that can spice your conversations, as well as offer some perspective on how complex human civilization is, and how one detail (such the appearance of a new beverage) can change everything.


Some highlights:
*The appearance of the first coffee shops in Europe can be compared to Internet forums. Back then, people with the same interests would gather at specific coffee shops to talk, spread news and interact.
*Bees that are exposed to plants that contain caffeine come back to these same plants more often and remember them much more than other plants.
*The introduction of coffee reduced alcohol use and contributed to create a more sober work environment

72 people found this helpful

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  • Dozer The Cat
  • 2020-02-02

Wordy for a short book...

More like reading a diary. Not many facts to latch on to. The performance was very good though.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Dennis J Gallagher
  • 2020-02-02

Half Caf

Well written and told but science and history at Wikipedia level and sometimes appears overly credulous to broad conclusions reached by individual researchers

37 people found this helpful

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  • zach
  • 2020-02-02

Best free audible yet!

I prefer scientific and historical books however I'm picky with the readers. The subject matter was good, the story telling kept me interested and overall i love it! I'm recommending this to my friends.

28 people found this helpful

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  • R. MCRACKAN
  • 2020-01-31

A deep look at the world's most common drug

Deeply researched, yet still suspiciously speculative, this title takes an objective and subjective look at everyone's favorite pick me up. I can't give it full marks due to how sensationalist some of it gets. Overall, a good quick listen as long as you can get it for free.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Dangerous
  • 2020-01-30

Short, but an all encompassing look at caffeine...

Pollan is an excellent researcher and writer. He dives into coffee and caffeine. The effects. The economy. And More.

I also love his readings.

20 people found this helpful

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  • kw
  • 2020-02-02

Wonderful!

I learned so much about coffee in some of the most enjoyable couple of hours spent listening to a book. I am a coffee addict but I have what I consider reasonable willpower and do limit myself to only a morning cupful. This books information has provided insight in regard to that morning cupful and spurred addition research. But most importantly will keep me mindful in regard to the whole issue of coffee drinking. All offered in a delightful listening experience. I highly recommend and will look for more from this author who is also a great narrator.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-01-31

A worthwhile listen

I found this book insightful, entertaining, thought provoking, intelligent, personal & well researched. Loved it!

13 people found this helpful