Do you know how did the coffee house get its start?

If we want to find he first record of a public place serving coffee we have to go to  the Turkish city of Constantinople (now Istanbul). In fact  in 1475 the first coffee shop  saw the light: Kiva Han. Coffee was such an important item during that time period, that it was legal in Turkey for a woman to divorce her husband if he could not supply her with enough coffee. Turkish coffee was served strong, black and unfiltered.

The idea of drinking  coffee with cream and sweeteners, came into fashion in Europe around 1529, when the first coffee house in Europe was established. Vienna was invaded by the Turkish army, who left many bags of coffee behind when they fled the city. Franz Georg Kolschitzky claimed the coffee as the spoils of war and opened a coffee house.  He introduced the idea of filtering coffee, as well as the softening the infusion with milk and sugar. The beverage was quite a hit, and when coffee houses also started serving sweet pastries and other confectionary treats, their popularity exploded.

Coffee establishments continued to spread, with the first one opening up in Britain in 1652. Though its popularity was growing in Europe, the idea arrived in England again from Turkey. An English merchant who dealt in Turkish goods (such as coffee) had two of his servants leave him, to go into business for themselves. “The Turk’s Head” coffee house was born.

It was in an English coffee house that the word “tips” was first used for gratuities. A jar with a sign reading, “To Insure Prompt Service” sat on the counter. You put a coin in the jar to be served quickly.

The British called their coffee houses, “penny universities” because that was the price for the coffee and the social upper-class of business-men were found there. In fact, a small coffee shop run by Edward Lloyd in 1668 was such a business hub, it eventually became the still-operating Lloyd’s of London insurance company.

From there, the idea spread further through Europe. Italy in 1654 and then Paris in 1672. Germany embraced the coffee house for the first time in 1673.

When America was colonized, the coffee house was quick to follow. The role of the American coffee house was the same as those in England: the hotspots for the business community. 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.

Nowadays globalization has reached the coffee houses too.This is the age of Starbucks, the largest American coffee house company  in the world with 19.972 stores in 60 countries. It is an Anglo Italian fusion of styles which has become a hit everywhere. What would Franz Georg Kolschitzky say if he could see how his creature has changed in time?

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8 thoughts on “Do you know how did the coffee house get its start?

  1. Very interesting blog! I did not know that coffee houses come from Turkey. In fact I know the American coffee and not the Turkish coffee, also the most famous coffee house is in America. Unfortunately Franz Georg Kolschitzky cannot know the great spread and the evolution of his invention. I think that he would have earned a lot of money!

    • Indeed! Many people have died without even imagining the huge success their intuitions, whether in art or economics, would have had. 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
      Cheers 🙂

  2. It is very strage that in the past if a men couldn’t ensure you a coffee, you could ask for divorce. Nowadays this thing can’t happen any more, because women can ask for divorce in any situation ( and because coffee doesn’t cost much! ahahahah).
    The word coffee came from “Caffa” , the region of Etiopia where it grows naturally. In the past church considered coffee the “devil’s drink”, because of its excitant features. Despite this, today coffee is the second most popular drink in the world after water!

  3. I never imagined that coffee had its origin in Turkey. Nowdays coffee has become a popular drink so much that we take the credit that the Italian espresso coffee is the best of all. When you go abroad to ask for coffee, we are ready to the fact that we will drink a cup of long coffee diluted with water, but now even many famous brands such as “Starbucks” or “Costa” have made a habit of making Coffee Espresso similar to ours. To this is joined by a more modern idea of ​​Coffee House, in fact, the big brands like the ones mentioned before, offer comfortable rooms with wifi, with lounges or tables where you can spend time in company, where to study or where to read a book. It’s a shame that this kind of mentality will not be brought in Italy because I think among young people may be very successful, but unfortunately we are still too tied to tradition because adults often take coffee at the bar in the morning before work or after lunch, while in Europe is not the same, maybe I’m wrong but this is what i think.

  4. As coffee lover, I have found this article very interesting.
    In particular I enjoyed the story of which coffee houses have become so popular in Europe, as well as how “tips” were born.
    I liked the fact that coffee houses were considered inportant hubs for the business community, where business people and students used to meet.
    Even thought I particulary love the Italian espresso, I admire the popularity and business success reached by Starbucks.

  5. First I really don’t know that coffee house it’s so old and it’s the result of a long story which includes so many tribes.But this story it s very interesting because coffee houses three hundred years ago were used like business centre and today things are not changed. When nowadays someone adult go to a bar(originally called caffè) they go probably to discuss of business and also in the case of Starbucks we are talking about a business,also if a different way. Then I think that Franz would be proud and happy of the actual coffee houses.
    Edoardo Ciccioriccio 4A

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