Do you know what ‘Wine of Apollo’ is? At one point in history, this phrase was used to describe a strong black drink that created enough stimulation to keep a human awake into the wee hours. Thus began the age-old tradition of drinking coffee, as well as the culture of serving it at specific outfits that became popular as coffee houses.
The culture of the coffee house, believed to have been born in 1000 AD. The story began with Arab farmers roasting and brewing some beans and spending their evenings sipping the strong broth to enjoy and take advantage of its invigorating after-effects. This unintentionally created the first coffee house in the world, a culture that quickly acquired its own identity and taste.
From the sands of Arabia, the contamination of the coffeehouse culture and its main drink ‘qahuwa’, meaning coffee, traveled to Makkah where it took the form of ‘kaveh kanes’ – a meeting place for people to play chess, discuss and dance while enjoying a drink. this aromatic drink. Given its viral nature, it had spread to neighboring Turkey in no time, where the first coffeehouse called Kiva Han was established in the former Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, in 1475. Given its aromatic magnetism, it immediately conquered Cairo, Egypt, and floated to Europe in the 17th century.
Coffeehouse culture took on a whole new flavor on the European continent, echoing an identity distinct enough to have endured for centuries. What better proof of its effectiveness than the fact that some of the coffeehouses founded then still enjoy loyalty and patronage today? A particularly notable example is that of Jamaica Wine House, which opened its doors to London’s eclectic residents in 1660 and now functions as a pub, affectionately referred to as ‘The Jampot’ by its patrons.
Prominent names responsible for the spread of coffeehouse culture were Café Le Procope in Paris, which was introduced in 1686, and several first-generation coffeehouses in London. Lloyds, the world famous insurance company started as a coffee house, just like Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Coffee itself was known in different parts of Europe by different versions of the word ‘cafe’, the etymology of which reflected the country’s traditions.
In England, coffeehouses were nicknamed ‘penny universities’ as anyone could gain admission and have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper all evening, both of which cost two cents. Conversation, however, was largely along the lines of the ancient Arabs, and coffeehouses soon became popular venues for political discussion, creative expression, and fame.
An interesting fact about the coffee house culture at the time was that this location was exclusively a domain of men. Except for the lady responsible for pouring coffee into cups, no women were allowed to enter as part of accepted social norms. But this mindset underwent a revolutionary change over the years, and as the coffeehouse culture grew and expanded, it encompassed all segments of the population, regardless of age, gender, or any other factor.
Then came the era when the coffeehouse began to be used as a showcase of local culture and a platform for countless social activities ranging from music and dance to holding auctions and a meeting point for stock traders, both aspiring and experienced. The current era is witnessing the maturation of this tradition with international chains such as Starbucks dominating the roast.