A coffeehouse, coffee shop or café is a place to drink coffee and socialise. Individuals or small groups come together here to talk, read, write, laugh, pass the time, and gossip. These days men and women also do business or work at coffee shops.
But where did it all start? This special place that we love to go to drink, eat, and enjoy life.
Let’s look at a few fascinating facts about the origin and evolution of the beloved coffee café:
- Coffeehouses have their origin in the Middle East, which had coffee shops over a hundred years before they first opened in England. In those days, coffee cafes were gathering places for men of arts and literature.
- The first coffee house, Kiva Han was opened in Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1475. The purpose was to serve strong, dark Turkish coffee. However, it soon turned into a gathering place where the politics of the day was discussed.
- In fact, from 1512 to 1524 imams banned coffee shops from Mecca because they became political hotspots.
- From the Middle East, the coffee café craze jumped to Europe. The first one was opened in Venice in 1629.
- In 1652 the first coffee shop opened in Britain. They called their coffee houses "penny universities" because that was the price for the coffee and businessmen of the social upper-class frequented them. These gathering places became so popular that there were 3 000 coffeehouses in England by 1675.
- From England, the coffee café idea spread through Europe. It landed in Italy in 1654 and in Paris in 1672. Germany had its first taste of the black brew in 1673.
- Coffee shops arrived in America when the continent was colonised. The first café was opened in Boston in 1676. The Tontine Coffee House (1792) in New York was the original location for the New York Stock Exchange because so much business was conducted there.
- And last, but by no means least, women were banned from coffee shops in England and Paris.
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