Coffeehouse culture shock

Coffee, tea and chocolate came in to England right around the same time. WOW what a culture shock they must have gone through! What must it have been like to have caffeine like that back then?

I will be focusing of course on the coffee house. Coffee houses started popping up about midway through 17thcentury England. The first coffeehouse in London was opened in 1652 in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill.

'The Coffee House'. Coffee Houses played an im...

Image via Wikipedia

Taverns had of course existed centuries before. Taverns were required to provide food, drink and lodging. This brought about much drinking and merriment. This brought about a certain level of behavior that the social elite would/could not participate in.

Coffee houses were different. Serving new “modern” exotic drinks a higher clientele began calling upon them. The well heeled and intellectuals began frequenting these coffee houses imbibing in part for the “restorative nature” of coffee. This attracted people from various religious and political view points.

Coffee houses were places where lords mixed with commoners and one could read the papers of the day and ideas were spread and business conducted. In fact Lloyds of London was started in Lloyds coffee house. The vaunted London Stock Exchange was started in Johnathan’s Coffee House. In fact it has been noted that such luminaries of the day as Roussea

Putting this in perspective for you and I. This was in large part the place where the whose who met to discuss matters of the day. These were men capable of moving minds and doing great things. Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and John Wilkins were known to frequent coffee houses. Wren as most know did a fair bit of work rebuilding London after the great fire of 1666. All of those men were founding members of the Royal Society (preeminent scientific minds of the day). These minds would read their ideas, expand on them, debate them, all within view of the public. Influencing any number of individuals.

So really, the coffee houses in England started out with a heck of a bang. I discussed in a previous post that we don’t have coffee houses anymore. We have coffee shops. Purely mechanical and commercial. Now you can see what I was thinking with that post. There is an entire history to coffee (of course with the myth of Kalid) that comes before English coffee houses. The English coffee house in particular had huge tremendous impacts on western culture. So I started there. More on the rest later.

Enhanced by Zemanta