Coffee shops are in the news, but where did it all begin?
Perhaps with this man, Pasqua Rosee (fl 1651-6), who opened London’s first coffee-house at St Michael Cornhill. Rosee’s coffee-house was a shed in St Michael’s churchyard. Here he served “two or three dishes” of coffee “at a time twice or thrice a day.” Rosee was also a champion of the new drink, publishing a handbill advertisement entitled “The Vertue of the Coffee Drink” (c.1652). Rosee claimed “coffee good against sore eyes… & will very much stop any defluxion of rheums… & so prevent the cough of the lungs.” His belief that coffee “will prevent drowsiness & make one fit for business” has proved more resilient than other claims for its benefits.
Rosee’s story, and that of London’s first coffee house, is also available for a listen in the ODNB biography podcast.
You can download the mp3 of the Pasqua Rosee podcast.
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