In London, the coffeehouse offered the threat not of male homosexuality but rather of a different kind of dangerous male-on-male behavior, namely "wasting time." Coffee itself was often thought to be disgusting — a few of the names used by detractors were "syrup of soot," "a foreign fart," "a sister of the common sewer," "resembling the river Styx," "Pluto's diet-drink," "horsepond liquor" — but even for those who thought coffee led to medical problems, especially impotence, it was not as threatening as the spaces where it was drunk. Some perceived the coffeehouse as pure waste, a corrupting influence on London society, while others celebrated it with a strange enthusiasm.– Writing in Cafés: A Personal History by food historian Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft.
"For centuries, coffee was used as a conversation stimulant. But in the present-day U.S., it functions primarily as productivity booster." In London, in Prague, Paris, Cairo, coffeeshops were the place to gain information and to discuss it. Taverns and saloons have had their historical role as well, especially as a place where people from all walks of life could mingle and share ideas. "Crucially, these are also semi-public spaces that can deliver a measure of privacy, a place where it’s easy to congregate yet hard for authorities to monitor." In America in the internet age, however, coffeeshops are where we work and bars are...well, not where we go to talk, anyway, if the decibel levels are any indication. Where then are we to foment our revolutions? Begin our art movements? Or dissect our dolphins? [more inside]
London’s coffee craze began in 1652 when Pasqua Rosée, the Greek servant of a coffee-loving British Levant merchant, opened London’s first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee shack) against the stone wall of St Michael’s churchyard in a labyrinth of alleys off Cornhill. Coffee was a smash hit; within a couple of years, Pasqua was selling over 600 dishes of coffee a day to the horror of the local tavern keepers. For anyone who’s ever tried seventeenth-century style coffee, this can come as something of a shock — unless, that is, you like your brew “black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love”, as an old Turkish proverb recommends, and shot through with grit.
Coffee Power To The People - "There are three young men in the Netherlands who want to take the barista, whom they see as a part-TEDx presenter, part-birthday magician, out of the equation. They want people to make their own coffee, and to make coffee they can be proud of."
A digitized collection of old school handheld electronic games from around the world. [more inside]
Want your independent coffeehouse to be a success? Pray for a Starbucks to open next door.