Coffee Houses

Over two-thousand coffee houses existed in London by the closing of the seventeenth century (Ellis xiv). The following lists brief descriptions of four of the more prominent coffee houses at that time.

Will's was indisputably the most famous coffee house of the century. It was owned by William Urwin and situated in one of the most stylish parts of London on Russell Street in Covent Garden. One of the reasons for the popularity of this particular coffee house was its regular visits from John Dryden the English poet and dramatist (Ellis 58). Dryden sat at a principal table when he went to Will's and was rarely approached by younger gentleman who thought it a privilege to get a pinch from his snuff-box. (Timbs 316)

The inside of Will's probably looked somewhat like the picture to the right of Lloyd's coffee house. Instead of sitting in boxes, as done later, people gathered at tables set up around the room. Smoking was so fashionable at the time that it was too popular to be prohibited. (Timbs 316)



Dipiction of Lloyd's coffee house. (Lloyds of London)



Symbol for The Devereux Pub that stands where Grecian Coffee house once existed.
(The Devereux)

The Grecian was situated in Devereux Court and was known as a meeting place for the "Learned Club" and people "adjacent to the law"(Ellis83-84). A famous violent incident occured at this coffee house when an argument over the pronunciation of a particular Greek word resulted in a horrible fight.. One man even ran his sword through the door (Ellis 84). Another source indicates that the Grecian was also a place where men could pick up prostitutes in the dark alleyways (The Devereux)







Turk's Head coffeehouse (image at right) bore the same name as numerous coffee houses and clubs. One located in Westminster was known for the debates that were held inside. Groups of people would come to discuss politics, literature, and many other controversial topics (Ellis 38). Another coffee house known as Turk's Head sold what seems to be gourmet coffees of the time, chocolate, and tea (Timbs 347).



The Rainbow, set up on Fleet street around 1652 was most likely the second coffee house in the city of London. Its owner, James Farr had been a mere barber before successfully opening The Rainbow and his neighbors seemed disturbed to see his rise to fortune (Timbs 280). This coffee house contained a bay window where the older gentleman sat and a large dining room.(Timbs 282)









Drawing of Turk's Head Coffee house in Cambridge (Ellis 83)