The Interesting Story of Coffee in England

Dear friends of Training Centre Raya London, we always try to choose interesting topics for you, for we truly believe that this may enrich your vocabulary in numerous aspects of life. We hope that you take a look at the English version of our website as well, as that might show you and teach you not only new terminology, but also the way a translation is structured.

It does seem, that England, as we know it today, is more like a country, known for tea drinking. Tea has been part  of the English people’s life and culture for centuries. The coffee was brought to Europe by Turkish and Arabic traders, and via trading voyages and cultural exchanges it reached England as well. This happened towards the end of the 16th century.

The first place where people could buy some coffee in England was in Oxford city in 1650 in a building, today known as The Grand Café. Two years later the first London café  opened on St. Michael‘s Alley. Initially coffee was a good, which only wealthy and influential people could afford. The most popular café was Jonathan‘s Coffee House, which gathered mainly stock brokers, and eventually the place took the name London Stock Exchange.

In 1672 King Charles II passed a bill into the Parliament, prohibitting cafés, as he believed them to be places for encounters between unreliable people, aiming to conspire against the monarchy. It was, however, just two days before voting the bill, that the King realized he was so  unpopular, and was creating discontent among the people, that he withdrew it.

The demand for coffee became brisker and England was receiving great supplies of this good, thanks to the help of the British East India Company and the Netherlands East India Company. These two companies were responsible that goods of high luxury are brought from Asia.

Yet, the beginning of the 19th century appeared to be a turning-point in the popularity of the baverage. Rumors stated that drinking coffee had a negative effect on workers’ productivity and health, and it was the workers themselves who stopped drinking it, fearing not to be falsely accused of maintaining bad habits. Tea regained its popularity as the traditional English baverage.

When WWII was over, coffee traders boosted their advertising, aiming to sell more and they succeeded. They emphasized on the advantages of the already-available instant coffee over those of the grinded one. The highlight of the advertising campaign of the instant coffee were the taste and aroma, as well as the frugality when preparing it. Nescafe, created by Nestle in the far 1938, had already built its reputation. Market stalls were piled up with instant coffee. The fact that coffee could now easily and quickly be prepared at home resulted in many cafeterias shutting down.

However, in 1971 the brothers Sergio and Bruno Costa began roasting high-quality coffee and later, in their own shop on Vauxhall Bridge Road, they started offering the very first espresso, served in a coffee cup.

Drinking coffee outside became a favourite activity once again thanks to the American TV series. This way people could not only enjoy the flavour and aroma of the drink but also socialise with friends. The sitcoms ‘Friends’ and ‘Seinfeld’ introduced a new urban experience- going to the café. The overseas franchise Starbucks joined the English ones, making the search for coffee experience even greater.

Nowadays, people in the UK drink over 98 million cups of coffee per day!

And you, what do you prefer drinking: coffee or tea?


Author: Iveta Radeva

Training Centre Raya London is a new and fastly developing English Language School specialized in teaching English as a second language. Founded in 2015 we are small enough to provide a personal service, but large enough to have very good facilities and resources for the students to learn English in UK.