Saturday, June 25, 2011



This informational YouTube video from CGPGrey put me in a mind to discuss the history behind coffee. It's sometimes suggested that esspresso bar chains and coffeehouses are a new addition to the urban environment (perhaps replacing the Mom and Pop diner or donut shop?). To the contrary, though, coffeehouses have been around for a long time. The brewing methods have changed, but the basic idea: a publick place to meet with freinds and business associates, read the papers/ surf the internet, and imbibe stimulants has been around since the 17th Century...

In Samuel Pepys' diary, there are multiple references to coffee houses. Shortly before his time, the first coffee houses opened in London in the 1650s (http://www.pepysdiary.com/p/361.php). Apparently, coffee was a drink imported from the Turks,
The first of these establishments had been set up by a Turkey merchant, who had acquired among the Mahometans a taste for their favourite beverage. The convenience of being able to make appointments in any part of the town, and of being able to pass evenings socially at a very small charge, was so great that the fashion spread fast. Every man of the upper or middle class went daily to his coffee house to learn the news and to discuss it. (Post by Emilio quoting Macauly, ibid.)
I think coffee at this time was brewed in iron kettles over the fire, then transfered to tin or copper pots for serving. You can see, and buy if you wish, authentic 18th-century coffee pots here:
http://goosebay-workshops.com/COFFEE-TEA-CHOCOLATE-SPIRITS

Of course, for many people making coffee was a matter of roasting green coffee beans on the open hearth, and brewing the grounds loose in a tall pot (what we now call "cowboy coffee"). I've heard of two ways to make the grounds settle to the bottom of the pot: eggshells, or cold water. Hopefully soon I can experiment with both methods and report back with the results!