London's First Coffee Shop

The first coffee house in any great Western city was apparently set up in London in 1652, and it came about by chance. An English merchant, said to be named Edwards, brought coffee beans back from Smyrna and told his friends of the fascinating black drink made from roasted beans. Edwards was plagued by so many people wanting to see and touch the beans, and to experience the fancy new beverage and experience its stimulation, that, to avoid his whole life and work being disrupted by the curious, he set up his Greek servant in a shop in Newman's Court, off the Cornhill, in the City of London. Then when an inquisitive friend, neighbour, or other acquaintance wanted to know about coffee, Edwards was able to refer the inquiry to his servant's coffee shop. This policy had twin virtues: It got rid of inquisitive, potentially boring people, and it made a profit out of their curiosity. This English enterprise, let it be noted, was during the puritanical rule of Cromwell.

pp. 273-274 Seeds of Wealth: Five Plants That Made Men Rich by Henry Hobhouse (2005)

Image retrieved from Hoydens & Firebrands on September 2, 2014.