The coffee house is an important part of coffee history. It originated in the Middle East, with the first recorded coffee house opening sometime in the 15th century in Arabia. Coffee houses spread with the popularity of coffee, popping up in cities such as Mecca, Damascus and Cairo. These coffee houses were often described as lively places where men came to socialise and play games.
The first coffee house in Europe was in Venice (opened 1645) and others soon followed in London, Paris and elsewhere. These were popular public hang-outs for men, especially those in fashionable and intellectual circles. For example, the Café Procope in Paris which opened in 1686 and is still operating today, was a major meeting point for the great thinkers of the French Enlightenment such as Rousseau and Voltaire, and later for revolutionaries like Robespierre and Marat.
America’s first coffee house opened in Boston in 1676. In the politically turbulent 1960s, coffee houses were visited by folk singers and hippies, but by the 1990s, thanks to chains, coffee houses became mainstream for Americans.