An image from a series on Englishness. A cafe in Lincoln
Chicago ©PDBarton 2017.
Coffee shops, or coffee houses as they were first known, spread to England from the middle east in the 1600’s. Hundreds of them sprung up in several cities across the country. They quickly became popular as a place to conduct business and to socialise as an alternative to the ubiquitous alehouses and taverns which proliferated at the time. Nobody back then drank water as most was not potable. Alehouses served weak beer in which the alcohol had killed the bacteria in the water from which it was made. Likewise, coffee houses used only boiling water to make their beverages. The action of boiling water for tea or coffee killed off the many bugs in the water. It was possible during that period to gain access to a coffee house by payment of one penny. You could stay as long as you liked and there was no need to even buy coffee. They were places of commerce where some businessmen would conduct their business. I say “business-man” as women weren’t allowed in coffee houses unless they owned …