The Modern Cafe
The Coffee Shop
ART OF DRINKING
Witness the following description of an 18th Century coffeehouse:
Anonymous Interior of a London Coffee House, 1668. From Pim Reinders, Thera Wijsenbeek et al., Koffie in Nederland: Viereeuwen culturgeschiendenis, (Zutphen: Walberg Pers; Deft: Gemeente Musea Delft, 1994), 40.
Come with me, said my friend, and I will show you my favourite coffee house. Since you are a stranger in the town it will amuse you . . . As he was speaking, he reached the door of the coffee-house in question. The entry was dark, so that we were hard put to it not to stumble. Mounting a few steps, we made our way into a big room which was equipped in an old-fashioned way. There was a rabble going hither and thither, reminding me of a swarm of rats in a ruinous cheese-store. Some came, others went; some were scribbling, others were talking; some were drinking (coffee), some smoking, and some arguing; the whole place stank of tobacco like the cabin of a barge. On the corner of a long table, close by the armchair, was lying a Bible . . . Besides it were earthenware pitchers, long clay pipes, a little fire on the hearth, and over it the large coffee-pot. Beneath a small book-shelf, on which were bottles, cups, and an advertisement for a beautifier to improve the complexion, was hanging a parliamentary ordinance against drinking and the use of bad language. The walls were decorated with gilt frames, much as a smithy is decorated with horseshoes. In the frames were rarities; phials of yellowish elixir, favourite pills and hair tonics, packets of snuff, tooth-powder made of coffee-grounds, caramels and cough lozenges, all vaunted as infallible. These medicaments were supposed to be panaceas. Had not my friend told me that he had brought me to a coffee-house, I would have regarded the place as the big booth of a cheap-jack . . . When I had sat there for a while, and taken in my surroundings, I myself felt inclined for a cup of coffee. (Ned Ward, London Spy, quoted in Ellis, Penny Universities, 44-45.)10