Markman Ellis

in British and Irish Literature

ISBN: 9780199846719
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

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The coffeehouse is an important and distinctive social and cultural institution deeply embedded in modern notions of public opinion and civil society. A coffeehouse is a business that sells prepared coffee as a hot beverage. After originating in the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, the first coffeehouses opened in Europe in the mid-17th century, in London first, and later in continental Europe and the American colonies. They quickly gained popularity through the peculiar flavor of the hot drink, with its habit-forming properties, but also through the distinctive sociability of the coffee room. This sociability was predicated on discussion and conversation on matters of political and cultural significance, and was supported by the provision of news and literary productions in both manuscript and print. Coffeehouses were recognized as centers of the new urbanism of the 18th and 19th centuries and were in this way associated especially with the Enlightenment and with political reform, although individual coffeehouses varied considerably in their philosophical and political allegiance. While in the Anglophone world coffeehouses lost some of their cultural significance in the 19th century, it was in this period that European iterations of the idea (in the café, caffè, or Kaffeehaus) gained special prominence. In the mid-20th century, the coffeehouse was self-consciously rehabilitated by the espresso bar trend, and it has found a new expression within postmodern culture in the much-noted ubiquity of anodyne branded coffeehouse chains.

Article.  12332 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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