January 29, 2011
One of the first things I noticed upon re inspecting All About Coffee is Ukers association with the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. The name of the Journal makes its appearance in the title page of the book, however I did not recall reading that much about the organization or Ukers association with the journal in the book. Upon further inspection and a quick stop at “Tea and Coffee Trade Journal” in the index I did find the history there, quietly tucked away under other mountains of historical data and factoids.
Ukers originally worked as the editor and later editor-in-chief for Jabez Burns on an in house publication called the Spice Mill. He and Burns disagreed about the need to publish as a trade magazine so Ukers went on to start the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal by himself, it was his single vision to write this journal, his lifes work, providing an outlet for a career of tea and coffee writing. He was responsible for the International Tea and Coffee buyer’s guide, still published annually. His other works include, All About Tea, The Romance of Coffee, and The Romance of Tea as well some other books mentioned in this excerpt from an interview with James Quinn, a colleague of Ukers who took over the journal after Ukers passed away in 1956:
“When he was researching he often traveled extensively, sometimes staying a month or longer in each place. That spawned another series of books called the Little Journey Series. Each book in the series focuses on his visit to a specific producing country. There were many – one on Brazil, another on Colombia, India and Japan. Late in his life, he even attempted a work of fiction based on coffee, called Rosemary and Briar Sweet. All the other books were successful, but that one was not.”
It is without doubt Ukers was a prolific, driving force behind the Journal. James Quinn, subject of the above mentioned interview, mentions his wish to have been involved with the forming of the SCAA and his involvement with the National Roasters Association during the latter part of his time with the Journal. The Journal paved the way for organizations such as the SCAA which have become a prominent force in the coffee industry today, making it easy to forget the importance of these earlier institutions.
For all practical purposes, Ukers was the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal. His name still sits proudly and prominently as “Founding Editor” in the issues published to this day. There is a rich history of coffee in his work and as I dig deeper into his writings Ukers appears more and more to me as a vital link between ancient coffee lore, and the exciting coffee landscape that is available today. He was a prolific man of coffee and I am excited to revisit his life and work.