The study of coffee, and of commodities in general, has become quite fashionable in the last decade. Recent best-sellers explore how sugar, tobacco, cod, tulips, salt, and, of course, coffee have changed the world. Most such studies concerning Latin America focus on the region’s role as producer and western Europe and the United States as consumers; Latin America is not seen as an innovator in the realm of consumption. Thus a colonial or neocolonial stance permeates these inquiries; laborers are studied only as producers, and local consumption is assumed to be subsistence oriented and characterized by unchanging, or imitative and derivative, cultures of consumption. Costa Rican scholar Patricia Vega Jiménez — who has previously has published on communications, publicity, and disease — here turns these assumptions on their head. Con sabor a tertulia is a pathbreaking, well-researched, and sophisticated study of the history of coffee consumption in Costa Rica from...

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