The Surprising History of London’s Lost Coffeehouses

Coffeehouses in London aren’t what they used to be:

Coffeehouses brought people and ideas together; they inspired brilliant ideas and discoveries that would make Britain the envy of the world. The first stocks and shares were traded in Jonathan’s coffeehouse by the Royal Exchange (now a private members’ club); merchants, ship-captains, cartographers, and stockbrokers coalesced into Britain’s insurance industry at Lloyd’s on Lombard Street (now a Sainsbury’s); and the coffeehouses surrounding the Royal Society galvanized scientific breakthroughs. Isaac Newton once dissected a dolphin on the table of the Grecian Coffeehouse.

But, the more things change, the more they also stay the same:

But how much of this burst of innovation can be traced back to the drink itself? For those of us accustomed to silky-smooth flat whites brewed with mathematical precision in one of London’s independent cafes, the taste of eighteenth-century coffee would be completely unpalatable. People in the eighteenth century found it disgusting too, routinely comparing it to ink, soot, mud, damp and, most commonly, excrement. But it was addictive, a mental and physical boost to punctuate the working day, and a gateway to inspiration; the taste was secondary.

Do you think Starbucks would be okay with someone dissecting a dolphin on premise? [via explore]

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