This weekend I was with some friends celebrating St. Patrick’s Day out at the Ranch. We ate lots of corn beef and cabbage and drank espresso drinks from my little coffee bar. I enjoy a good cup of coffee or a nice cup of espresso. Do not put all that caramel and whipped cream on my drinks! That isn’t coffee, it’s just Kool-Aid for adults, though I have to admit that I have a Starbucks card and go there a few times a week for a glass of iced tea. I also have to say that I enjoy meeting friends at a variety of coffee shops around town. It is a nice meeting place and beats the bar scene by far and this got me thinking…
Everywhere you look is a coffee shop springing up around town. In front of these shops, you will see an array of vehicles and bikes and people having meetings, doing homework or just socializing. It is a common site. I tend to think coffee shops are a relatively new over the past fifty years; my thinking could not have been more off!
In researching this, I have discovered that coffee shops have been around for a very long time. I have read a variety of articles that have different dates about the first coffee shops, but as far as I can gather, it was about 1475 when the first public coffee shop was recorded located in a Turkish city. Then in 1529, Europe began to have coffee shops and by the early 1650s, Britain had coffee shops and these shops were spreading worldwide. British coffee shops were called Penny Universities, that was because of course the price of a cup of coffee was a penny, and mainly what was known as upper-class business men hung out there.
Coffee and tea were the main drink offered until 1946 when the espresso machine was invented. Then espresso drinks began to pop up. These coffee shops soon became a place in the United States to talk politics, read poems, and sing folk music. Malt shops were for young love, dancing, a malt before the Football game and a hangout for teens. Coffee shops seemed to be for the creative intellects.
In the mid 50s to early 60s you would find beatniks in the coffee shops. This seemed to be a real movement. They were young people who banged on bongo drums and read poetry. They had something to say and people listened. In the mid 60s folk music began to spring up in the coffee shops. People such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez could be found in these shops strumming their guitar and singing. Open mike nights would soon be a regular event at the coffee shops and singers began to sing their songs with messages and passion.
That was once upon a time ago. Today, coffee shops are more like chain stores and they tend to move people in and move them out. They have so many drinks that I dare to even call it coffee. Some privately owned coffee shops still offer the gentle sounds of a local singer/songwriter. However, the coffee shops of today will never be able to compare the coffee shops of the 50s and 60s.
I am sure we will never see the coffee shop go out of style and it will evolve more and more. In some states, Starbucks will soon be serving alcohol, which will then not make it a coffee shop but a bar. However, as long as there are shops that sell coffee and offer a place to sit talk and in some places listen to live music, then it pleases me to know that coffee shops are alive and well and ever growing.