Initially, Venetian merchants for their part, introduced coffee in Europe as a plant loaded with therapeutic properties. We have previously wrote in our blog about other routes through which coffee has found its way into Europe, to read more please click here.
Soon, though, the Venetians learned to roast its seeds and create fragrant drinks that were then sold by street vendors who exchanged lemonade for the delicious dark new drink that was incredibly flavorsome. This is how coffee inevitably reached and was spread all around Italy. The first coffee house in Italy opened its doors in 1651 in Livorno. Its first name was Caffè alla Venezia Trionfante, but it was soon renamed as Caffè Florian by its first owner Floriano Francesconi. The Caffè Florian was favorite for many intellectuals, such as George Gordon Byron, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and Marcel Proust.
Coffee found its way to Britain through Mediterranean trade routes that connected the country to the Muslim world. Queen Elizabeth I established diplomatic relations, good trading connections, and seafaring agreements with her Morrocan and Ottoman friends, allowing goods such as tea, coffee, and chocolate to also enter England.
The first coffee house in England opened in 1650 in Oxford and was named “The Angel”. In 1652 Pasqua Rosee, the servant of a merchant trader and immigrant from the Ottoman Smyrna, established the first coffee house in London, which was later known as “The Turks Head.” “Rosee’s” coffee-house in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, was located in the center of the financial district of the City of London and its first clientele included merchants of the Levant Company, the trading house that used to organize and regulate trades with the Ottoman Empire. By 1663 there were more than 83 coffee houses in London. By the beginning of the 18th century there were as many as five or six hundred. A Prussian nobleman, Baron Charles Louis von Pollnitz, who visited London in 1728, described its coffee places as some among the greatest pleasures the city had to offer. For what is more, some of the most famous companies in London started as coffee houses. These include Lloyds of London, an insurance brokerage company which started as Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in 1688.
Join us again tomorrow morning for the next and final instalment of the history of coffee houses when we look at famous coffee houses in America.