Originally posted on The History of London
In the latter 17th century and throughout the 18th century a major impact on London life was made by the introduction of coffee houses, which became numerous throughout the city. The forerunner of the modern café, they were used in a similar way to pubs of the 20th century, with many having a particular type of male customer who could socialise or do business with similar-minded men. The best-remembered example is that owned by Edward Lloyd in the 1680s where he successfully built up a clientele consisting of shipping merchants from which developed the Lloyd’s of London insurance market. Writers, artists, politicians and businessmen all frequented their own special hostelries.
Coffee originated in Ethiopia in northern Africa and later spread throughout the Muslim world. It reached Europe via Italy from where Venetian merchants traded with North African ports. Arriving in England in the latter 16th century the name was anglicised from the Italian caffé. From the 17th century coffee was being grown in the North American colonies, allowing it to be more easily available in England. Sometimes referred to as ‘politician’s porridge’ it was taken sweetened with sugar but never with milk.
The first coffee house in England was established by a Turkish Jew at Oxford in 1650. Two years later another opened at St.Michael’s Alley off Cornhill, with the coffee probably imported by Daniel Edwards, who traded in Turkish goods, and the establishment managed by…