Coffee houses are places which are regularly frequented by people from all different walks of life and is one of the few places where people’s lives regularly converge. Cafés are always buzzing with life: from the low rumbling hum of voices interspersed with various laughter, to the muffled rustling of people’s newspapers, or groups of students fervently flicking through their school books. Coffee shops are indeed a hub of activity, but how did these simple setups become such an important feature of daily life for so many people? To find that out, you have to delve a little deeper into the origins and evolution of the humble café.
The beginning of coffee houses
Coffee houses originated in Europe in the early 17th Century, named cafés from the French for coffee. From the beginning, they were destined to become places of social interaction, as they were often placed in places of high traffic, such as trade routes. The popularity of coffee houses grew exponentially in England, particularly in London, where they were often used as meeting places for significant events and discussions. As Italian American immigrants moved into U.S cities, they brought with them their traditional foods and beverages, and this included the love of coffee houses.
A new era of entertainment
It was around the mid-twentieth century that coffee houses become more than just places to drink hot beverages and talk amongst friends. Cafés became the cornerstones of individual neighborhoods, where people were able to enjoy entertainment, usually in the form of musical performers. As music tastes changed, so too did the atmosphere of coffeehouses, becoming more like the venues we recognize today. Many musicians would often start out their careers performing their sets in small coffee bars, and this is still true of some people nowadays.
The modern coffeehouse
Many coffee houses are now chain businesses, each selling the exact same selections of drinks and snacks, across the world. However, many of the most loved coffee houses are the unique, stand-alone cafés which still have that authentic atmosphere. Many of these small businesses are the ones who still partake in live entertainment, and that has moved on from just including music.
Cafés are a common setting for poetry slams, in which poets argue for political and social change through spoken art. The word ‘café’ has also moved on from simply meaning coffee house, and is now a term adopted by small business where people can socialize over other substances, such as vape cafés, which allow people to smoke e-cigarettes inside them; if you are interested in learning more about vape culture and purchasing vaping equipment, you can shop here. These sorts of establishments are very similar to the infamous café’s which are well known in Amsterdam, except, of course, using legal substances.
Pet cafés are another sought-after type of establishment, where people are able to purchase drinks and food while interacting with animals. These are very popular in countries in Asia, though are restricted in the US due to health and safety concerns.
Though coffee houses may have changed over the years since their formation, the concept behind them has remained the same, and they are, as they always were: a place for people to come together.