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Where Was the First Coffee House Established?

Updated on March 30, 2017

Have you ever wondered why coffee houses are so popular? If you know, then you probably frequent one that serves gourmet coffee surrounded by comfy chairs. And while you sit back on that vintage styled sofa, do you ever wonder where the first coffee house was born?

In the latter part of the 15th Century, there was a coffee shop named Kivan Han located in what is now known as Istanbul. Coffee was so significant during that time period.

In the 16th Century, it became fashionable to add sugar and cream to coffees. In the early part of this century, Europe had its first coffee house. Bags of coffee left behind after a Turkish invasion were seized by a man named Franz Georg Kolschitzky who thereafter opened a coffee house. He would filter the coffee adding milk and sugar and the behavior of the coffee house changed to include the serving of pastries.

Francis Guy (17601820); Tontine Coffee House, N.Y.C., ca. 1797; Oil on linen New-York Historical Society
Francis Guy (17601820); Tontine Coffee House, N.Y.C., ca. 1797; Oil on linen New-York Historical Society

Example of a Coffee House


Old Slaughter's Coffee House


Drawing of The Turk's Head

Resource: Ellis, Aytoun. The penny universities; a history of the coffee-houses. London, Secker & Warburg, 1956.
Resource: Ellis, Aytoun. The penny universities; a history of the coffee-houses. London, Secker & Warburg, 1956.

In the mid 17th Century, Britain opened up a coffee house. The idea continued to spread throughout Europe, but Britain was exposed to coffee from Turkey and it was named “The Turk’s Head.” Allegedly, it was in an English coffee house where the word for gratuities, “tips,” was first used. There was a jar on the counter for the receipt of coins if you wanted to be served faster. The jar had a sign posted to it that read, “To Insure Prompt Service.”

The price for coffee in Britain was one penny and businessmen frequented these establishments. Coffee houses were fashionable meeting places for discussions over political, philosophical and cultural subjects. Politicians and businessmen alike would sit and converse and read their newspapers. In 1668, a coffee shop operated by Edward Lloyd was such a business center that over time, it became the famous insurance company we know as Lloyd's of London. Thereafter, in the mid to latter part of the 17thCentury, coffee houses were opened in Italy, France and Germany.

In Britain, churchmen were suspicious of coffee houses. They thought they must be places of sin. Other critics included women who were not welcome there and by tavern operators who now had some competition. The complaints went disregarded because once the craze for coffee drinking took on, it couldn’t really be stopped. There is documentation of over 2,000 coffee houses in London during both the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Coffee houses reached America once it was colonized and they became the centers of businessmen. In the late 18thCentury, the original location for the New York Stock Exchange was called the Tontine Coffee House because a lot of business was performed there.

Soon, coffee houses began carrying other items such as tea, tobacco and chocolate, but most importantly, the news. Sometimes the news was read aloud and this element was changing one’s way of life. Men, whether merchants or intellectuals, could gather at the coffee house and have a voice.

Before espresso and specialty coffees, coffee houses served regular coffee. The first espresso machine was made in France in the early 19thCentury. Over 100 years later, the first automatic espresso machine was invented by Dr. Ernest Illy. In 1946, the commercial piston espresso machine was created by Italian, Achilles Gaggia. In 1960, the first pump driven espresso machine was produced by the Faema company.

In 1971, the most popular coffee house opened in Seattle. You guessed it. Starbucks.


2004 Harvard Study

"During the span of the study, 1,333 new cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed in men and 4,085 among the women participants. The researchers also found that for men, those who drank more than six cups of caffeinated coffee per day reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent compared to men in the study who didn't drink coffee. Among the women, those who drank six or more cups per day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 30 percent. These effects were not accounted for by lifestyle factors such as smoking, exercise, or obesity. Decaffeinated coffee was also beneficial, but its effects were weaker than regular coffee.

The researchers note that caffeine, the best known ingredient in regular coffee, is known to raise blood sugar and increase energy expenditure in the short-term, but its long-term effects are not well understood. Coffee (both regular and decaffeinated) has lots of antioxidants like chlorogenic acid (one of the compounds responsible for the coffee flavor) and magnesium. These ingredients can actually improve sensitivity to insulin and may contribute to lowering risk of type 2 diabetes.

This is good news for coffee drinkers, however it doesn't mean everyone should run out for a latt, said Frank Hu, senior author of the study and an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. We still don't know exactly why coffee is beneficial for diabetes, and more research is clearly needed."



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  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Duchess, thanks very much for the read and your comment. Much appreciated.

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    Duchess OBlunt 5 years ago

    Interesting information, well researched and presented.

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Thanks so much for your comment. I found this to be an interest subject to write about.

  • glassvisage profile image

    glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

    This is a very interesting Hub! I didn't know the history and that it started in Istanbul. I didn't know that espresso machines were created so long ago! And I didn't know that coffee can raise your blood sugar. Thanks so much for this information!