Bestselling author A.J. Jacobs has undergone a life-changing and
entertaining journey. The idea is deceptively simple: he takes one
of our greatest pleasures- our morning cup of coffee - and tries to
thank every single person involved in making it, from the barista
to the coffee farmer and all those in between. This turns out to be
a stunningly large number, including artists, chemists, presidents,
mechanics, biologists, miners, smugglers and goatherds. Hundreds of
people. Thousands. Maybe more. Through this seemingly
straightforward quest, Jacobs reveals inspiring truths. The book is
a reminder of the amazing interconnectedness of our world. It shows
us how much we take for granted. It teaches us how gratitude can
make our lives happier, kinder and more impactful. And it will
inspire readers to follow their own "Gratitude Trails." Gratitude
was not an emotion that came easily to Jacobs. His innate
disposition is more Larry David than Tom Hanks. But he knew that
gratitude is perhaps the most important key to human happiness, the
chief of all virtues, as Cicero said. Science has shown gratitude's
benefits are legion: it helps you sleep, improves your diet, and
makes you more likely to recover from illnesses. Jacobs wanted to
inspire his kids to embrace gratitude, so he decided to commit
himself to a radical experiment. Over the course of several months,
Jacobs went on a journey that took him across continents and up and
down the social ladder. He experienced joy, wonder, guilt and
depression. He met great characters. He learned just how far-flung
are those involved - from the Minnesota miners who get the iron
that makes the steel that makes the coffee roasters, to the Madison
Avenue marketers who captured his wandering attention for a moment.
His adventures include: A trip to a remote farm in Colombia, where
he experienced first-hand how challenging it is to pick the coffee
fruits. Several days with a coffee taster who taught Jacobs the
secrets of the trade, and schooled him in the vocabulary that
rivals wine sommeliers. (The taster doesn't just detect notes of
apple in his coffee. He says what kind of apple -- Gala?
Honeycrisp?) Because coffee is 98.4 percent water, Jacobs visited
the vast upstate reservoirs that supply New York City, and thanked
the folks whose homes were destroyed to make way for the lakes.
Jacobs devotes a chapter on the cup-makers, including the
rags-to-riches inventor of the "Java Jacket," that underappreciated
cardboard ring you slip over your cup. It has saved millions of
fingers and thumbs from burning discomfort, but we never give it a
second thought. The food safety inspectors, who keep our coffee
free from an alarming number of diseases and creatures. Along with
entertaining tales, the book is filled with wonderful insights and
useful tips. Readers learn how to focus on the hundreds of things
that go right every day instead of the handful that go wrong. They
read about our culture's dangerous overemphasis on individuals
instead of teams. They learn the art of "savouring meditation".
They learn the pros and cons of globalism. They learn to appreciate
the astounding work it takes to create even the most simple items
in our lives. There's even a gratitude hack to help them fall
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