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Coffee Houses

Coffee Houses: Then and Now


Coffee houses have always been more than a place to drink coffee and socialise. Those places are where you go to go to exchange news, share views and know what the other person thinks. Tehn and now Coffee shops are places of learning, making business deals, scientific, literary, political, economic discussions and even, well dare I say it, catch up on gossip.

In the earlier times when electronic media did not exist, the popularity of coffee houses they were places of political parties were born and places to gauge public opinion. Kings and nobility even were known to freqent them.

During the 17th century when coffee was introduced to Europe, the coffee shops became gathering places. In those earlier days too when were the were no postal addresses, the coffee shop became the local mail drop - as would say now. In Greece, and other Mediterranean countries I would suggest this is still the case today in the case of the local kafeneio. Although it could be more the case that the postman finds it a short cut to getting the job done.

A typical coffeehouse shares a cross characteristic of a bar and a restaurant. Only, a coffeehouse focuses on serving coffee, tea and snacks. In some countries though, a coffeehouse does, aside from bakery products, serve hot meals, deserts, sandwiches, soups, alcohol and sometimes as in Amsterdam some more exotic substances.

Today, coffeehouses continue the tradition set by coffeehouses then. It still remains to be a very popular venue for people who would want relaxed and subdued atmospheres where they can talk, read, catch up on the day’s event, meet with people and have excellent quality coffee. This is evidenced by popular coffeehouses with franchises around the globe such as Starbucks franchises.

Truist to tradition is probably the coffee houses in Vienna where their famous coffees are served up with huge portions of luscious cream cakes and chocolates that could be placed anywhere in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries let alone the 21st. Add to that the charming ambience in the decor, the table settings, and good bonhommie of the customers and you a time warp.

Depending on the country and locality, coffeehouses have adopted variations. In the United States, coffeehouses or a Café may offer a variety of coffee styles, hot chocolate and tea served also with light snack while others serves full menus. Alcoholic beverages may also be served. Then there is the street corner "Diner" with the typical Instant Blended Coffee served up in the equally bulbous Pyrex coffee pot in the 8-10 cups size, piping hot and always topping up the slurped cups of the working class.

A Coffeehouse in France, while mostly for the local residential trade and working class almost always serve alcoholic drinks, such as aperitifs and local wines along with the local mineral water. Like most café anywhere in the world it serves light snacks. Other coffeehouses may have a restaurant section where the guest could be served full menus.

The popularity of Cafés in France particularly Paris, gave way to subtle coffeehouse variations, and a touch more classy like the Brasserie where typically single dish meals are served as would be the case with a Bistro.

The café experience in Europe spawned other variants of coffeehouses around the world known as street cafes, strutting the pavement and sidewalk. Coffee in the fresh air is a better way to describe it.

Bang up to date and we have now spawned the Internet café. Internet cafes may not look like your typical coffeehouse like the bistro, brasserie, cafeteria and the coffee chain establishments but it certainly shares the same basic characteristics. Coffee, tea and chocolate are served together with lights snacks and talk. The talk though is conducted through the Internet.

It may or may not replace the traditional coffee shops but just the same, Internet cafes are a hub for political discourse, learning, and anything else debatable.

Coffee houses then and now? The basic premis has not changed.
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