12 Annotations

First Reading

Mary  •  Link

Coffe was just beginning to become known in England and the first coffee house was opened in London in 1652. It was still very much a luxury drink at this stage, but why anyone bothered to drink it at all must be wondered at if you read the recipe quoted by Liza Picard in 'Restoration London': it must have snarled as it came out of the pot.

Emilio  •  Link

(Here's an annotation I originally posted under Will's in Coffee Houses, but as it's as likely to be seen here . . .)
This is a link to Macaulay's description of the coffee house as a London institution. He's writing about 1685, but what he says should apply equally to 25 years before.
The most interesting bit is what he has to say about the importance of the coffee house amid the political uncertainty of the 17th century:

"The coffee house must not be dismissed with a cursory mention. It might indeed at that time have been not improperly called a most important political institution. No Parliament had sat for years. The municipal council of the City had ceased to speak the sense of the citizens. Public meetings, harangues, resolutions, and the rest of the modern machinery of agitation had not yet come into fashion. Nothing resembling the modern newspaper existed. In such circumstances the coffee houses were the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself.
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. Every coffee house had one or more orators to whose eloquence the crowd listened with admiration, and who soon became, what the journalists of our time have been called, a fourth Estate of the realm. The Court had long seen with uneasiness the growth of this new power in the state. An attempt had been made, during Danby's administration, to close the coffee houses. But men of all parties missed their usual places of resort so much that there was an universal outcry. The government did not venture, in opposition to a feeling so strong and general, to enforce a regulation of which the legality might well be questioned."

Susanna  •  Link

Here's an interesting website on the history of London's coffee houses, with descriptions of some of their specific clienteles (in the decades after the diary, for example, the Tories would meet at the Cocoa-Tree, and the Whigs at the St. James, both in Westminster, the home of many a politically-oriented coffee house):


The coffee house was an important new cultural institution of the English Enlightenment that was being born as Pepys was writing his diary.

matthew  •  Link

In 1663 there were 82 coffee houses in london.

Bradford  •  Link

Coffee houses: 2 recent books.

Brian Cowan, "The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffee House." Yale UP, January 2006, 364pp.

Markman Ellis, "The Coffee House: A Cultural History." Phoenix, November 2005, 304 pp. [Now in pb in the UK, one assumes, at L8.99.]

Given the general interest in this topic, thought these worth mentioning, though Steven Shapin, reviewing both in the 20 April 2006 "London Review of Books," does not mention Pepys. But one would be surprised if he's absent from their indexes.

Bradford  •  Link

A new entry in the ODNB, pursuant to Mary's mention above, for them as has access:

"Sicilian-born servant PASQUA ROSEE opened London's first coffee-house in Cornhill in 1652."

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Another claim to the first use of the bean in England: Balliol Oxford has a claim that it had the first sinner to drink Coffee, and was sent down for his crime of stimulating his cramming.
It Be Nathaniel Conopius who did brew his own caffeine in 1648, and did corrupt other inmates.
Then a Publick Coffee house opened in 1651 by one Jacob the Jew which be recorded in the Life and Times of Anthony a Wood:

quote " This year [1651] Jacob the Jew opened a coffey house at the Angel in the parish of S. Peter, in the East Oxon ; and there it was by some, who delighted in noveltie, drank. When he left Oxon[,] he sold it [coffe] in Old Southampton buildings in Holborne neare London, and was living in 1671.
cleaved from Newton's Apple by Peter Aughton.

Steve Mashburn  •  Link

Lloyd's Coffeehouse, of course, is the most famous London coffee house, giving birth to both Lloyd's of London and Lloyd's Register.

I descend from Edward Mashborne, who was the stepson of Elizabeth Nash Mashborne. Elizabeth became Lloyd's second wife in 1698 -- about the time Edward Mashborne left for America where he operated a school on the frontier between Virginia and North Carolina.

In 1713 Mashborne guided Rev. Giles Rainsford from Virginia to his new parish in North Carolina. Interestngly, Rainsford was the grandson of the mayor of Dublin who also owned a brewery that later became famous as Guinness.

I find it a little funny that two of the foremost UK businesses of today were intertwined in the swamps of North Carolina 300 years ago.

I would welcome correspondence with anyone with an interest in Lloyd's Coffeehouse of this time period.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Jeanette Fregulia, in her 2019 book "A Rich and Tantalizing Brew: A History of How Coffee Connected the World", cites archaeological findings by an American-French team that establish “an ancient botanical origin” for Arabica coffee in southwestern Ethiopia. That the birthplace of Arabica coffee is in the Bonga region is significant, since it may have led to the Ethiopian and Arabic words for coffee beans: buna and bunn. ...

Five centuries before coffee as a hot beverage became popular, a mysterious ingredient appeared in Arabic books on medicine and botany. The descriptions of this ingredient were similar to our coffee. However, instead of bunn, it was called bunk, and rather than drinking it, it was mostly used for cleaning and freshening the hands.

Fast forward to the 15th century, and the entire Near East was abuzz with discussions about qahwa — a name used to designate a dark, strong variety of wine.
At the time, coffee was consumed in 2 ways: as qahwa bunniyya (the coffee beans were toasted first, then ground and brewed).
Qahwa qishriyya, on the other hand, was made by lightly toasting the husks of the berries, the qishr, and then brewing them. Its popularity was further enhanced by the belief that coffee had medicinal benefits, ranging from drying up phlegm and relieving colds to dissolving kidney stones.

Those who wrote about coffee at the time resorted to legends to explain the origins of drinkable coffee, such as how King Solomon was the first to make the brew. He ordered his jinn to fetch coffee berries from Yemen, which were then parched and made into a drink that could cure illnesses. After this, coffee was forgotten only to be rediscovered by the Sufis.

A 1558 treatise called "Umdat al-ṣafwa fī ḥill al-qahwa," by Muslim jurist Abd al-Qādir al-Jazīrī, is the earliest record of coffee as a drink. It discussed whether coffee-drinking was religiously acceptable. It also told the story of its “discoverer,” a Yemeni Sufi named Sheikh al-Dhabḥānī.
While in Ethiopia, the story goes, al-Dhabḥānī saw people consuming coffee. Later he fell ill and made a drink with coffee beans for himself. It made him feel good, and he noticed it boosted his energy and helped keep him awake and alert. He spread the word among his Sufi brothers, who valued it as an aid for their long night vigils.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


As for coffee as a hand-cleaning product, it seems the spread of quality perfumed soaps eclipsed its popularity.
As bunk disappeared, so did the knowledge of what it was used for.
The first to make a connection between coffee berries and the bunk used for hand-washing was the German physician and botanist, Leonhard Rauwolf, who wrote about coffee.
He saw coffee beans being toasted and brewed in Aleppo during his 3-year visit to the Levant from 1573 to 1575.
Scholar Karl Dannenfeldt wrote in 1968: Rauwolf identified the beans “by their virtue, figure, looks, and name” as being the same beans mentioned in the writings of Ibn Sīnā and al-Rāzī. In other words, they were bunk.

Today people are again finding that ground coffee is useful for deodorizing refrigerators and air freshening. Some swear by rubbing their hands with grounds they get rid of odors like garlic, onion, and fish — like how the ancients used their bunk.

Excerpted from

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

'In no European city did coffee catch on as aggressively as it did in London, whose coffee houses proliferated in the mid-17th-century and became “social and intellectual hotbeds.”
'Later, “Paris’ coffee houses hosted Enlightenment figures like Diderot and Voltaire, who allegedly drank 50 cups of coffee a day.” (In fairness, it was a lot weaker back then.)
'Producing and transporting the ever-increasing amounts of coffee imbibed in these and other centers of human civilization required world-spanning imperial operations, which were commanded with just the degree of caution and sensitivity one might imagine.'


Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.