A Brisk and Sometimes Tongue in Cheek Look at The Evolution Of The Humble Cafe

history of the humble coffee houseCafé’s tend to be everywhere these days and they seem to be springing up at the rate of one a week (well…at least where I live anyway). Yet they all seem to be doing good business. After all the humble cafe has become a place where we can now socialise, work, read, relax oh..and er drink coffee. Except it isn’t just coffee as we know it. Instead it’s a whole new world. Go into any half decent cafe now and you can order gourmet espressos, double choco mochas, cappuccinos, frappuccinos and a multitude of other types I can’t even pronounce, or even begin to understand. Anyway, as I was sitting there drinking my skinny latte with a side of vanilla, it got me thinking about how far the humble cafe has come. Where did it all start?

Turkey around 1475

In Turkey coffee was considered such an important commodity that it was legal for a woman to divorce her husband on the grounds that he couldn’t supply her with enough coffee. Coincidentally the first documented coffee shop called the Kiva Han appeared in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1475.

Do you want cream with that?

Coffee was originally drunk in small quantities and was reportedly so thick you could stand your spoon up in it. However in 1529 the first European coffee house was established in Vienna when a Turkish immigrant now living in the city decided to adapt the lethal brew to European tastes by offering it with milk and sugar. Needless to say it became a hit.

Londoner’s were mad for it!

In London the first coffee house or rather ‘coffee stall’ was opened in Cornhill in 1652 by proprietor Pasqua Rosee. He was a Greek who became a servant of a trader in Turkish goods (including coffee). Instantly it became a hit and before long he was serving over 600 cups a day as it was portrayed as an antidote for violence, drunkenness and even lust. By 1663 there were 82 coffee houses in the old city alone. That’s enough caffeine to keep a small army awake for a week!

Business hotspots

When America became colonised naturally the coffee house was quick to follow and similarly to London they became hot spots for business. In 1792 the Tontine coffee house opened and this later became the original site for the New York Stock Exchange.

What’s this scum on my coffee?

Up until 1946 coffee was a very simple affair. You either had it black or white. But that all changed in 1946 When Gaggia invented the Commercial Piston Espresso Machine. As a result the Gaggia coffee bar in Milan became the world’s very first espresso bar. Legend has it that it wasn’t an immediate hit and the natural oils of the coffee that formed a cream on top when forced through the contraption weren’t popular. In fact, some of the first patrons were heard to say ‘what’s this scum on my coffee‘. Needless to say they soon developed a taste for it and the rest as they say….. is history.

Seattle 1971

Apart from Grunge music and that loveable Psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane, Seattle also plays a big part in the history of the coffee house because in 1971 the very first Starbuck’s opened. Now over forty years on and they’ve not only taken the world by storm with over 8000 stores worldwide but have revolutionised the way that we see the humble coffee house.

If you’re opening up a new cafe and are in need of great quality cafe furniture at equally great prices then look no further than Cafe Solutions. Visit our website atwww.cafesolutions.com.au or give us a call on (07) 3205 1616 to see just what we have to offer.

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