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It ​was a cup of coffee that changed Robert Wallis’s life - and a cup of very bad coffee at that. The impoverished poet is sitting in a London coffeehouse contemplating an uncertain future when he meets Samuel Pinker. The owner of Castle Coffee offers Wallace the very last thing a struggling young artiste in fin de siècle England could possibly want: a job.

But the job Wallis accepts - employing his palate and talent for words to compose a “vocabulary of coffee” based on its many subtle and elusive flavors - is only the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in which Wallis will experience the dizzying heights of desire and the excruciating pain of loss. As Wallis finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his coworker, Pinker’s spirited suffragette daughter Emily, both will discover that you cannot awaken one set of senses without affecting all the others.

Their love is tested when Wallis is dispatched on a journey to North Africa in search of the legendary Arab mocca. As he travels to coffee’s fabled birthplace - and learns the fiercely guarded secrets of the trade - Wallis meets Fikre, the defiant, seductive slave of a powerful coffee merchant, who serves him in the traditional Abyssinian coffee ceremony. And when Fikre dares to slip Wallis a single coffee bean, the mysteries of coffee and forbidden passion intermingle…and combine to change history and fate.

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