Discusses how people started coming together to drink coffee and discuss issues of the day.
When we say coffeehouse here, we don’t mean the Starbucks’-like spot sof today, where people stand in line to purchase a latte and then – if they’re not in a rush to get to work – stay in the café to work on a laptop.
No. What we mean when we say coffee house is the coffeehouse of long ago: places that served, as Wikipedia succinctly puts it, as “centers of social interaction: the coffeehouse provides patrons with a place to congregate, talk, read, write, entertain one another, or pass the time… .”
Today’s café’s and coffee retail establishments are much more solitary for patrons than a true coffeehouse. Coffeehouses in France in the early the late 1780s served as a hotbed of rebellion: it was in a coffeehouse in Paris that Camille Desmoulins shouted “Aux armes, citoyens!” and the Bastille fell two day later, starting the French revolution.
Poets, writers, artists, even bankers met in coffeehouses in Western Europe and together created plays, poems, even banks/insurance companies.
Here in the U.S., the coffeehouse served as a meeting place for Patriots disgruntled with British rule. In fact, a particular coffeehouse, the Green Dragon in Boston, was described by American statesman Daniel Webster as the “headquarters of the Revolution.” (His description of the tavern is even more interesting because Webster himself wasn’t even born until 1782, six years after the Revolutionary War’s start.)
So while our cafés, coffee shops and retail coffee sellers got their start as coffeehouses, if people frequent them now, it’s more often to fire up a smartphone and surf the web, or do some work on a laptop. If people talk to each other, it may be about poetry, art or politics, but it’s just as likely a conversation on family matters, or the latest gossip on the Kardashians.
Back to the Beginning
So how did coffeehouses get their start? Since most non-native settlers first came to this country from Western Europe, especially Great Britain, they brought the coffeehouse concept with them. The Merchant’s Coffee House in Philadelphia (also known as the City Tavern, a replica of which now serves food, drinks – and coffee to tourists and locals alike) was a meeting place for such Revolutionary luminaries as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and more.
Lloyd’s of London started in a coffeehouse in London and so did the U.S. Stock Exchange, as it got its start at the Tontine Coffee House in New York City.
The coffeehouse since then evolved into the coffee shop: inexpensive restaurants that in the mid-1900s served cups of coffee with your meal for as little as 10 or even just 5 cents (taking inflation into account, however, sees that 5-cent cup of coffee in 1955 costing about 45 cents in 2016). Starbucks opened its chain of cafés in 1971.
Ubean Coffee is not yet served in cafés and coffee shops, but that will change as we grow our network of distributors. Until then, contact a distributor near you to enjoy our delicious, fair trade, organic, premium coffee!