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Eden Travel Book Club: The Monk of Mokha By Dave Eggers DIscussion

The Monk Of Mokha opened up my eyes to the origins of coffee. I knew a little bit about the business before: the history of the waves, coffee types, specialty drink methods, fair trade versus direct trade. But the information I scooped up while researching for work felt feeble page-after-page.

I read this book in two sittings, over the course of a weekend (whilst feeling slightly ashamed for sipping my $0.10 cup of dalgona coffee). It was riveting. And it felt like a movie, the stereotypical Horatio Alger rags-to-riches kind. But for some reason (despite the few moments where I was left with a bitter aftertaste), I drank it up.

This book chronicles the journey of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a young Yemeni-American man on a mission to restore the art of Yemeni coffee. The story tilted in a different direction than I thought it would. But I enjoyed it all the same.

As an immigrant (and child of immigrant parents), I could relate to Mokhtar’s passion and sometimes reckless determination. And I was invested in his entrepreneurial story.

Eden Travel Book Club Rules: Discussion posts (like this one) will have a series of questions as starting points. But honestly, you can talk about whatever you want regarding the books (or questions)! You don’t have to answer all (or any) of the questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts regardless.

The Monk Of Mokha Discussion Questions

  • What did you already know about coffee before you read this book? How did this book shape your view of coffee?
  • What was your initial impression of Mokhtar Alkhanshali? Did it change over the course of the book?
  • How did you feel about the pacing of the book?
  • When writing a biography, how important is empathy? What is your impression of Eggers’ approach to Mokhtar’s story?
  • Mokhtar’s uncle along with the partners of his old company Mocha Mills filed a lawsuit against Blue Bottle and Mokhtar for racketeering, fraud, blackmail, conspiracy, money-laundering, and embezzlement a few years ago (Mocha Mills was excluded from the book). Does this information play into your perception of the narrative?
  • How does Eggers’ language aid or undercut the story?
  • Are you satisfied with the ending of the book? At what note do you think the book could have ended?
  • Do you think $16 is a fair price point for The Port Of Mokha coffee?
  • Just for fun, if this book were to be made into a movie, who would you cast for Mokhtar?
READ  Eden Travel Book Club: Wanderlove By Kirsten Hubbard Discussion

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Of course, these are just starter questions. There are no right or wrong answers. Feel 100% free to discuss anything regarding the book (or otherwise). I’ll be jumping in and responding as well throughout the course of the next 72 hours!

3 Comments

  • Avatar
    Maya
    May 4, 2020 at 10:55 AM

    I had no idea he was involved in a lawsuit. Just looked it up. I really liked Mokhtar. He didn’t know a lot about coffee but his desire for something more drove him to make most of the decisions he did. And I feel like the author told the story like Mokhtar was his friend, thought it was weird that he made himself a character though, which I guess drove his biases. It’s nonfiction but I wasn’t expecting it to read like fiction.

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    • Avatar
      Ruth
      May 4, 2020 at 11:05 AM

      I wish it ended on the chapter before the last with the ship instead of the roof. It was oddly dramatic like this needs to be a movie but I kind of liked it. I made dalgona coffee while reading this too. 😂 I get why the coffee costs so much but I can’t see myself paying that much.

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      • Avatar
        Anshula Varma
        May 4, 2020 at 11:13 AM

        Oh, I definitely agree. The way Eggers inserts himself into the book was a little offputting. I feel like he didn’t need to be there. It pulls out of biography mode. And the book dives into the justification of the cost but I personally think $5 for a cup of coffee is expensive so I probably wouldn’t buy it for $16 (maybe once if I ever get a chance because I’m genuinely curious as to what it tastes like).

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