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Are Coffee Houses Fashionable?

Mar 24, 2008
When you think of a coffee house, the first thing, which might come to mind, would be a cozy place serving gourmet coffees and espressos, couches to lounge on while you sip your coffee and maybe engage in a conversation with a friend or read a good book. Have you every thought about how coffee houses got there start?

One of the first coffee houses, which publicly served coffee, was the Kiva Ham in Constantinople now known as Istanbul. To the Turks coffee was such an important part of their life a women could legally divorce her husband for not supplying her with enough coffee. Turkish coffee was made to be served strong, black and unfiltered. Coffee was usually made in an ibrik.

In Europe it became fashionable to add sweetener and milk to coffee. This practice started in the first coffee shop opened in Europe around 1529. The Turkish army invaded Vienna leaving behind bags of coffee beans when they fled. Franz Georg Kolschitzky had apparently lived in Turkey and was the only person who knew what the beans were. He claimed the bags of coffee beans as the spoils of war and opened up a coffee house. He came up with the idea of filtering coffee along with the notion of adding sweetener and milk. The coffee was a hit in Vienna and after the serving sweet pastries and other treats the coffee house business soared.

The establishment continued to spread, with the opening of the first one in England in 1652. Coffee popularity in England was growing when the idea arrived again only this time from Turkey. An English coffee house was the first to use the word "tips" meaning gratuities. In the coffee house a jar was placed on the counter with the sign reading "To ensure proper service". A customer would place a coin in the jar to get fast service.

The British had a nickname for their coffee houses. They called them "penny universities" mainly because that was the price of the coffee and the social upper class of businessmen were found there. One small coffee house was run by Edward Lloyd attracted the business clientèle. The idea spread through out Europe. Italy opened its first coffee house in 1654 and in Paris in 1672. Germany opened its first coffee house in 1673. The coffee houses came to America shortly after the Americas were colonized. The coffee houses in America were the hot spots for the business community just as they were in Europe. New York was the location of the first coffee house for the New York Stock Exchange. A lot of business took place at this location.

For years regular coffee was all that was served in coffee houses, then along came espresso. Gaggia invented the commercial piston espresso machine in 1946. This machine was much easier and safer to use than the earlier models. These machines were first used in the Gaggia coffee bar in Italy. They offered espresso along with the regular coffee. The coffee houses of today were born.
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