Today, tea may be the drink most associated with the English. From the mid 1600s until the late 1700s, however, hot chocolate and coffee were the more popular drinks. Newly imported from Africa and South America, these drinks became fashionable novelties in the 1660s.
Coffee houses were hubs of social activity, particularly popular with businessmen, politicians, stock market traders, writers and intellectuals. In this poem from 1665, the writer – self-styled as an ‘Eye and Ear Witness’ – describes the variety of characters that could be found within a coffee house:
Here you're not thrust into a Box
As Taverns do to catch the Fox
But as from the top of Paul's high steeple,
The whole City's viewed, even so all people
May be seen.
This book can has been digitised in full and is available here.
- Full title:
- The Character of a Coffee-House. Wherein is contained a description of the persons usually frequenting it ... As also the Admirable Vertues of Coffee. By an Eye and Ear Witness. [In verse.]
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- Article by:
- Chloe Wigston Smith
- Rise of the novel, Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism, Satire and humour, Gender and sexuality
Frances Burney’s Evelina unveils the dizzying and dangerous social whirl of Georgian London, where reputations and marriages are there to be made and broken. Dr Chloe Wigston Smith investigates Burney’s critique of fashion culture and the demands it places on women, in a novel that prizes feminine resilience.
- Article by:
- Matthew White
- Politics and religion, Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism, Language and ideas
Matthew White explains how the coffee-house came to occupy a central place in 17th and 18th-century English culture and commerce, offering an alternative to rowdy pubs and more formal places of business and politics.