A Brief But Fun Look Into The History Of The Humble Cafe

cup of coffeeYou don’t have to go far these days to find a cafe close to where you live or work. In fact, blink and there’s a good chance that yet another one has opened in your neighbourhood (well, that’s what’s happening where I live anyhow). Yet despite their close proximity to one another most seem to be doing enough to entice customers through the doors to survive. Maybe that’s because café’s have evolved over the years and are now places where you can socialise, do business, read the paper, catch up with friends on social media, oh and er…drink coffee. Anyway as I was sitting in my favourite cafe contemplating life it got me thinking about just how far the cafe has come and more importantly where did it all begin?

Turkey 1475

From as early as the 13th century Ethiopians were reported to be drinking a ‘strange bitter brew’ which somehow spread to the Middle East and eventually Europe. In fifteenth century Turkey, coffee was seen as such an important commodity that a law was passed where a ‘women could be divorced on the grounds that she couldn’t supply her husband with enough coffee’. It comes as no surprise then that the first documented coffee shop – the Kiva Han opened for business in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1475.

Vienna 1529

In Vienna around 1529 a Turkish immigrant decided to adapt the lethal brew which was reported to be ‘Black as hell and strong as death to European tastes by adding milk and sugar. Hey presto, the cafe-au lait’ was born.

1652 London

It wasn’t until 1652 that London developed a taste for coffee when in Cornhill, a Greek immigrant by the name of Pasque Rosee opened up the first coffee stall. As a servant to a rich Turkish coffee trader, Rosee developed a penchant for the newfangled brew and exported it to Britain. Within a short while his stall was so popular that it was selling up to 600 cups a day. Maybe that was because it was cleverly marketed as an antidote for everything from violence and drunkenness to lust! Within 10 years Londoners couldn’t get enough of it and by 1662 there were a reported 82 coffee houses in the old city alone, many of them becoming places where trades were struck and business was conducted.

1760 -1790 – Colonisation

When America and Australia became British colonies, coffee was quick to follow. The first recognised coffee house in the US called Tontines opened in 1792 and this became the site of the original New York Stock Exchange. The first coffee introduced to Australia was believed to have been transported on the ships of the First Fleet bound for Botany Bay in 1788

1946 – Milan Italy

For the last 600 years of so, coffee had been a very simple affair, you either had it black or white. However in 1946 that all changed when Italian company Gaggia made the world’s first Piston Espresso machine and unveiled it at the Gaggia coffee bar in Milan. Rumours have it however that at first it wasn’t very popular as the natural oils in the coffee formed a layer on top which many believed to be a ‘layer of scum‘. However after tasting they we’re hooked and the rest as they say….is history!

1971 and all that

Seattle in 1971 seemed a strange place to start what was to become the cafe revolution but it’s where the very first Starbucks opened. Some forty years later and the company now have over 8000 stores world-wide and have revolutionised the way we drink coffee.

So there you have it a glimpse into the world of the humble cafe. If you’re opening up a new cafe and are in need of quality commercial furniture then here at Cafe Furniture Brisbane we have a wide range of stock for you to choose from all at great prices. Why not check out our website further or contact us on 07 3205 1616 to see just what we have to offer.


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