Coordinates: 51 46 N 1 15 W
Population: 149,800 (2005 est.)
Coffee and college; in many ways, an ideal pairing. How many pre-dawn epiphanies or witching hour discoveries can be at least indirectly attributed to the stimulating properties of the ubiquitous beverage? It’s fitting then, that the first European coffeehouse can be traced back to the seventeenth century, at Oxford University. In 1650, an entrepreneurial (and prescient too, coffee is now the second most valuable legal commodity on Earth) Turkish Jew served the first cups of the dark drink to an academically inclined populace living between the Cherwell and Thames Rivers. By this point in time, it was already popular throughout the Ottoman Empire, and may in fact have reached Italy before the merchant, whose name was Jacob, had his initial Northern European customers hooked. Starbucks, which began in Seattle, now has three locations in Oxford’s city center.
A great link to a map of 17th century Oxford.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.