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Sunday, 20 October 2013


The first coffee shop, called Kiva Han, opened in Constantinople in the early sixteenth century. Turkey had become the chief distributor of coffee, with markets established in Egypt, Persia, and Venice.

In Persia coffeehouses sprang up in the sixteenth century where men assembled to drink coffee and play chess or listen to music.

England’s first coffee shop was opened by a Turkish Jew named Jacob at Oxford University in 1650.

Christopher Bowman opened the first coffeehouse in London in St Michael's Alley, Cornhill, in 1652.

These first English coffeehouses were called "penny universities" as a penny was charged for admission and a cup of coffee.

By 1670 coffee had replaced beer as  the favorite breakfast beverage for many New England colonists.  There were now coffeehouses in most major North American towns including Baltimore, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. These establishments sold a greater variety of drinks than the European ones as they offered  not only coffee but also chocolate, ales, beers and wines.

In London such was the popularity of coffee houses amongst gentlemen by 1674 that their wives were protesting that their husbands were never to be found at home. Instead they were constantly to be found drinking and conversing in the coffee houses. As a result The Women's Petition Against Coffee was set up.

In 1675 England's King Charles II was alerted by his spies to the seditious possibilities of coffeehouses where coffee, chocolate, tea and fruit flavored iced water were drunk whilst political matters was discussed. He was warned they are hotbeds of revolution and seminaries of sedition so he issued a royal proclamation to suppress them.  However, such was the public outcry the ban lasted just eleven days. Instead Charles taxed heavily the public sale of coffee.

In 1686 the Sicilian chef Francesco Procopia dei Coltelli (1651 - 1727) opened Le Procope, the first café in Paris.The café faced the Theatre Francais, where it drew the artists and actors of the day.

Within a few years of its opening, customers were gathering in Le Procope, which was elegantly decorated with chandeliers, mirrors and wood paneling, to sample Procopia's choice of around 90 flavors of different ices and sorbets. It also became a meeting place for Parisians to discuss politics and read news-sheets.

Café Procope is still in business today A plaque at the establishment states that it is the world's oldest continually functioning café.

Before the first French café, coffee was sold by street vendors in Europe, in the Arab fashion.

Bistro is not French for Cáfe, but the word Russian Cossacks would shout at French waiters, meaning "quickly."

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