A People’s History Of Coffeehouse Culture

How Drinking Coffee Shaped the (Western) World

Since coffee’s discovery by an Ethiopian shepherd boy named Kaldi (or so the legend goes), the bean and the beverage has been slowly spreading its influence throughout the world. Coffee, prized for its affect on the brain as well as its affect on social situations, has been a catalyst for new ideas for more than a millennium now. Coffee stimulates the mind and lowers inhibitions simultaneously, making it a great lubricant for brainstorming.

Coffeehouse culture has always been at the center of coffee’s ability to drive new ideas forward. From the first coffee shop in Mecca, through the spread of coffeehouse culture into Europe and eventually abroad to the Western Hemisphere and other far-flung locations like Southeast Asia, coffee culture has been slowly spreading. And as it spreads, coffee adds its influence to multiple ideas and conversations along the way. Here’s a look at the origins and history of coffeehouse culture.

history of the coffeehouse

Ottoman Empire and Coffeehouse Culture

The Turks called it “the Wine of Apollo,” as a point of contrast with the European’s “Wine of Dionysius” (alcohol), and were known to drink copious amounts of coffee in all parts of the Ottoman Empire. They first introduced the beverage (along with tea) to their European neighbors, and the spread of coffeehouse culture in the West had begun.

The Enlightenment and That Other Other Tea Party

Before coffee and during the medieval period (also, unsurprisingly, known as the Dark Ages), the standard European breakfast consisted of weak beer (one way to remain hydrated when clean water was challenging to find) and gruel, or some sort of pickled or dried meat or fish.

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