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The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse
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The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  71 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
What induced the British to adopt foreign coffee-drinking customs in the seventeenth century? Why did an entirely new social institution, the coffeehouse, emerge as the primary place for consumption of this new drink? In this lively book, Brian Cowan locates the answers to these questions in the particularly British combination of curiosity, commerce, and civil society. Co ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 11th 2005 by Yale University Press (first published November 1st 2005)
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Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hmmm... I read this for a class looking at social change through the lens of the rise of coffee & sugar. This book documents an important development, the rise of coffeehouses and the attendant shifts in the modes and meanings of coffee consumption, and specifically the public performances of such. Cowan's argument is problematic in that he grants basically all the agency in the rise of coffee culture to this supposedly fully formed class, the virtuosi, an argument I found sort of vaguely un ...more
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Hard at it is for us today to imagine a world without coffee, it was even ahrder for early modern Britons to imagine what a world with coffee would be like. it is a testament to their flexible imaginations that they succeeded in creating a coffee world of their own." (p. 263)

I don't even like coffee and I found this study absolutely fascinating. How coffee could grow into something so fundamental in 17th century Britain, when it was unknown before, the growth of the British coffeehouse and the
Oct 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, culinary
"To learn why and how seventeenth-century English consumers came to desire a strange new drink such as coffee can take us a long way toward understanding the origins of the consumer revolution of the long eighteenth century... Curiosity, commerce, and civil society provide the three major themes through which this book explores the rise of coffee and coffeehouses."
Sarah Hoffman
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
This is a pretty in-depth economic and social history of coffee and proves my point - I'll read anything if it has food in it. It's actually a pretty easy read though and I learned some interesting things. I recommend this one.
Interesting but dense and unnecessarily long

Interesting summary of the adoption of coffee in British life and the subsequent rise of coffee houses. But the text was pretty dry and the book was longer than what it needed to be to get across its core ideas.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-drink
Ok, it is not really about coffee, but rather a spirit of adventure crossed by moderately rebellious college students blended with professional scholars and the social mores that grew alongside the loosely defined coffeehouse.
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Apr 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Really entertaining and interesting study on the origins of the coffeehouse in Britain.
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Joooordan! !!!
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