Coffee House

The coffee house, most prominently called Café, also as clubhouses or coffee shop is a shop which mainly serves coffee, but also offering snacks and cold drinks as well. On the other hand, tea houses also like coffee houses except that they serve tea instead of coffee. Both coffee houses and tea houses are considered a place of social interaction and enjoying refreshments.


What is Coffee House?
The coffee houses have been serving as a place of meet up between people for different purposes including some informal business meet-up or a casual gathering, while enjoying coffee or tea with some light snacks including bakery, fruit, sandwiches, etc.

Why are coffee houses popular?
They provide an atmosphere where we can relax and chill with our friends or family and spend a great time having talk, playing games, have informal meetings etc.

Popularity and subsequent ban on coffee houses:
Ban in Mecca over coffee houses was for the reasons that they are creating influence on the political scenario and other reason being coffee viewed as a form of intoxicant, which was against islamic laws in terms of not consuming intoxicants. Ban remained on them from 1512 to 1524.

History of Coffee Houses:

Where did coffee houses originate?
The coffee houses started in Mecca, city in Saudi Arabia, in early 15th century.
As coffee was first grown in Middle East, therefore the first coffee houses are also recorded in this area. Mecca’s coffee houses became an intellectual hub due to the type of clientele it attended, as many intellects were used to come and have conversations, share their thoughts and stories, had discussions which give the coffee houses a great value at those times.

Coffee houses spread in Syria:
There was presence of coffee houses in 1534 in the city of Damascus, Syria.

Coffee houses spread in Constantinople (Istanbul):
The coffee houses were introduced in Constantinople (Modern-day Istanbul) in the year 1554, where they were called as Kaveh Kanes. Ibrahim Peçevi, the chronicle of the Ottomon era, records that the first ever shop opened in Ottomon empire was in the district called Tahtakale by Shams of Damascus and Hakem of Aleppo. It is stated in the culinary oral history that the first coffee which was purveyed in Istanbul was in Kiva Han, in late 1500s, but there are no written records related to it.

  • When was coffee houses banned:
    There was a ban on coffee consumption and coffee houses in the 17th century by the tyrant king of Ottomon Empire, Sultan Murad IV, thus there were no coffee houses allowed to be run and opened.

  • Why was coffee banned in Ottoman Empire?
    It was banned on grounds of political and religious reasoning. Political reason was coffee houses being the centre of social gatherings, creating and discussing political views, and a place for political gatherings. Religious leaders thought that coffee has a stimulating effect, thus it acts like hashish, which is being a drug is forbidden in the Islam.

  • Punishment for drinking and selling coffee:
    If anyone was found guilty of coffee consumption or selling then he was punished by decapitating his head. Later, successors of Sultan Murad had showed some leniency and eventually ban was lifted.

Coffee houses spread in Persia:
Coffee houses in Persia are called as Qahve Khanay. The idea of coffee houses was brought by the pilgrims of Mecca into Persia. After the expansion of the Ottomon Empire in Persian regions, turks brought with them the idea of coffee houses.

  • The first coffee house:
    The city of Qazvin hosted the first Qahve Khanay during Safavid Dynasty. Since 16th century, Iranians are enjoying the ambiance of coffee house and a great place for relaxing and socialising.

  • Rise and fall of coffee houses:
    At the time of fifth shah of Iran, from Safavid Dynasty, there was an increase in popularity of coffee houses, where they were spread to major cities in Iran but it saw a downfall in the Qahvay Khanay with the fall of the Safavid Empire. These Qahvay Khanay once again rose to popularity at the time of Qajar Dynasty.

  • Importance of coffee houses in Persia:
    They became a place for the writers, artists and poets to come together and have a leisure time and businessman discussing their deals. Thus, they were becoming a favourite place for upper social class.
    Qahvay Khanay were so significant to Abbas the Great (Shah of Iran) that he was used to visiting them keeping his identity in disguise, also guests especially royal ones were used to be received here.

  • Iranian coffee culture:
    Iranians has been enjoying social gatherings and their coffee culture. Qahvay Khanay has infused greatly with the Iranian culture which can be seen in their folk arts. There is a different painting style originated which is called as Qahve Khaneh Painting, which shows how deeply coffee culture is engraved with the Persian culture. On the other hand, folk art includes the performances of Shahname Khani and naqqāli.

Coffee houses in Asia and the Middle East:
Home to the coffee houses, its spread in Asia was faster than other regions. However, in many parts of Asia, tea has also been used instead of coffee, which are normally called as Tea Houses.
Coffee in Arabic is called Qehva and is widely used not only in coffee houses but also at many occasions as well. Coffee houses are a prominent and most widely used place for social gatherings where the water pipes, also called as shisha, are being served. As it has earned an importance since the older times of Mecca, it has been spread in its culture in various forms, such as used other than coffee houses in occasions like funerals where a bitter/unsweetened coffee is served to guests, and they talk about the deceased. Also, a tradition of the fortune telling though coffee empty glass is observed.
Pakistan and India
Both countries adopted the culture of coffee houses as soon as they got independence and mostly cafés can now be found in every major city to small city.
Introduction of coffee came into late 19th century with the French missionaries when they came to the Yunnan province of China. Nowadays, with the urbanisation of China, it has chains of many international cafés, which shows interest of people in this beverage, and also the influence of western media on the country. It is serving as a place for friends to sit and relax on couch and have a relaxing time while enjoying modern twists to coffee flavours.
A proper concept of coffee house was brought to Thailand by an American lady, Madam Cole, at Rattanakosin Island in 1917. The concept of coffee houses is also been adopted here and are also a social gathering spot in Thailand and many of them can be found throughout the country.
Malaysia has many coffee houses with many international chains. Malaysian coffeehouses history dates back to the British colonisation era, where British military officers introduced it. In Malaysia, coffee houses are called as Kopitiam, and coffee is called as Kopi. In earlier days, Kopitiams were run by the Hokkien and Hainanese Malaysians.
Malaysian Kopitiams:
It is prepared differently than most of the world. As normally in rest of the world coffee is roasted with sugar but here it is roasted adding butter as well. Furthermore, as instead of brewing (which is worldwide practise of coffee making) they pour boiling water through the cloth into the coffee.

Kopi culture has been widely spread in Malaysia where people engage in social gatherings and it is equally popular in younger generations as well. Mostly, it is influence of western culture on elites and younger generations (especially those who have studied abroad) that coffee consumption and concept of coffee houses is on boom, where it is assumed to be the thing of higher social class. But small coffee shops there could not provide that ambiance and standard that is why international cafés are more popular.
There are many cafés throughout the Philippines including international café chain which shows interest and popularity among people.
In Singapore, coffee houses are also called Kopitiam. It is also made in the same way as Malaysia Kopi is made.
During late 18th century, Singapore was inviting immigrants for the development of the nation which is why many Asian and European immigrated to Singapore and thus the love of coffee by these immigrants was reached to Singaporeans, also, the concept of coffee houses came along the way.
The hardworking immigrants and locals were used to relax in the evenings at cafés and have a good time while enjoying a beverage which would help them to relax, and unwind a hectic day. People from all social circles, cultures and religious groups would come and enjoy the ambiance.

Coffee houses in Africa:
Coffee was originally discovered in Ethiopia (Old Abyssinian) in 850 AD. It is also thought that the coffee got its named after the Kaffa (region in Ethiopia) where they are used to mixing crushed coffee beans with clarified butter for consumption. Coffee was mostly used in that region but in 1893, it brought to Tanzania and Kenya through Brazil. Since then, it is widely used as a beverage throughout Africa and later the concept of coffeehouses was also introduced.
We can find waterpipes, also called as Shisha, in the cafés of Cairo (Capital of Egypt).
Egyptian coffeehouses has always reflected the Egyptian culture. They were supposed to be the place to have coffee while socialising, exchanging political views, gossiping and have fun time altogether. Only men were allowed to visit coffee houses.


People from all the socioeconomic classes were used to visit them, and they achieved a great popularity among people, cause before that people could only gather at some special events and occasions.
Egypt has also faced a ban on coffee houses due to few reasons. Firstly, due to stimulating property of coffee, it was considered by religious people to be abandoned for consumption.

Secondly, people were used to gather there and have political discussions which at many times developed an insecurity and seemed dangerous to the authorities.

Thirdly, they seemed to be causing the corruption in social fabric, as some criminal activities were used to be conducted at there, for example, Female public dancers at that time called as Ghawazi, were used to be in coffeehouses, for the sole purpose of entertaining their male guests, which under the Islamic rule was considered as immoral.

Coffee houses in Europe:
Europeans were introduced by the coffee in the 16th century. Initially, coffee was used for the medicinal purposes, but later Europeans started to take it as a beverage. In modern times, coffee houses in Europe are called as café, also there are some coffee shops as well. Nowadays, coffee is the most favourite and highly consumed beverage in Europe.
Where was the first coffee house in Europe?
In 1647, first coffee house of Europe opened in Venice.
When did coffee houses start in England?
England had its first coffee house in 1651 at the Angel in the parish of St Peter in the East in Oxford, which was opened by an Armenian called Pasqua/Pascal Rosée also known as Harutiun Vartian. After that, second coffee house was opened in 1652 in London at St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill.
What is a Penny University?
Earlier Oxford coffee houses took an interesting twist. As the first coffeehouse in England was opened in Oxford, an area of intellect and scholars, thus the coffee houses became an intellectual’s hub, a kind of non-structural universities, where you can give a penny and this can get admission in the coffee house, can have coffee along with having a learning experience, newspapers to read and to indulge in conversations . Many English scholars and intellects were used to frequently visit them.
Coffee houses in England became a centre for intellects, discussions, social interaction and soon coffeehouses took importance in the London scene.

Women’s entry in coffeehouses:
There are mixed believes within historians about the participation of women in coffeehouses. Cowan thought that women was allowed to enter and be a part of coffeehouses, while on the other hand historians such as Brahma believes they were not allowed to attend the coffee houses.
The Women’s Petition Against Coffee:
In 1674, a petition came against coffee named as “The Women’s Petition Against Coffee”.
This was petitioned by the women who thought coffee should be banned along with coffee-houses. There first reason for petition was that the coffee makes their men infertile which is becoming a cause of lower birth rates. Secondly, they thought that coffeehouses are consuming men’s time in idle activities where actually they should be at home working and helping their families.

List of first coffeehouses in European countries:

  • Wallachia:
    Wallachia’s first coffee houses was opened in 1667.

  • France:
    The first coffee house of France was opened in 1672.

  • Austria:
    Vienna had its first coffee house in 1685.

  • Hungary:
    In 1714, Budapest had it first ever coffee house.

  • Italy:
    In 1720, Italy’s first coffee house named Caffé Florian was opened in Venice.

  • Ireland:
    Accounts of first coffee houses in Ireland are from late 17th century.

  • Switzerland:
    Accounts of first coffee house is found in 1761 in Switzerland.

Coffee houses in the USA:
In 1676, America’s first coffee house was opened in Boston. American coffee house culture evolved with the passage of time. It has also helped many artists in starting their career by their live performances in the coffee houses, like Bob Dylan and Joan Chandos Baez, who are very well known artists started their career singing in coffee houses. Nowadays, coffee and coffee houses are a part of the American culture.

Coffee houses in Australia:
Australians are coffee lovers. Australians knew about coffee from the time Britishers were there. In 1928, Café Florentino, had installed first espresso machine in Australia. Later, in 1930s, there was an influx of immigrants from around the world who introduced their coffee brewing method here and thus a coffee rush culture was developed in Australia. In modern times, we can find one of the best cafés and coffee shops in Australia.



History of coffee houses is as old as it is interesting. Coffee houses played a major role in shaping the social and political scene of the regions, adopting their culture and norms and causing some concerns to a segment of society or establishment. Coffee consumption, especially the concept of coffee houses can be found all over the continents who have loved the coffee house concept and their fame can be seen by the existence of large number of coffee houses all over the world. They had continued to gain fame throughout history and has been reshaping with the passage of time.

Today’s Coffee Houses:
Modern coffee houses are found almost in every city, providing a very peaceful and calmed environment with books to read, Wi-Fi facility, a great ambiance for working on laptops or any gadgets, having formal/professional meet ups. The most famous and liked format of today’s coffee houses is based on placing seats and tables in an outdoor area to the café, where customers are served the food and coffee, alcohol or tea at times.

Types of Coffee House Designs:
With the changing times, the idea innovative coffee houses for grabbing customers attention and fulfilling their particular needs has been established. Coffee houses mostly called as café nowadays, have evolved with time. The type of coffee houses or cafés are as follows.

  • Parisian Café:
    The concept of such a café started in France. A Parisian Café serves as a complete restaurant with a complete menu for each time of the day, it has a full bar to serve different wine types as well. Its interior is top-notch and highly ornate, thus providing a sophisticated ambiance.

  • Student Café:
    They are run and operated by students themselves and that is why it is less posh than other cafés. Due to low budget, café’s needs are catered keeping in mind the type of clientele it will serve such as it provides a warm, cozy environment, with interior perfect to cater the needs of clientele and layouts for study dates, etc

  • Sidewalk Café:
    They are like normal cafés but provide an extension towards an outside of café as well by placing tables and chairs, providing umbrellas over them to protect from sunlight and rain with a beautiful scenery and fresh air to enjoy.


Corporate Café:
Such cafés usually have worldwide chains and have a recognizable brand name, this includes Gloria Jeans, Costa and Starbucks etc. They have very attractive interior, have beautiful wall art, their own brand logo, repetitive slogans, comfortable ambiance and customer-friendly.

  • Grab and Go Café:
    Such cafés usually do not have much seating for the people, except for a few seats as they only serve like a drive thru, where you can sit on seats for a few minutes while waiting for your order to be picked. Such type of cafés work great for people who do not have much time and just wants to grab their coffee and/or few snacks.

  • Café Bakery:
    A fancier bakery shop is called a Café Bakery. It has all the bakery items at display, especially a corner is set where customers can watch making of breads and other bakery items. All bakery items are at display in the café along with the coffee machine as an integral part of such a café. It has a cozy atmosphere with warm lights which tend to be much inviting to the customers.

  • Co-working Café:
    An ideal form of café for freelancers and home based workers and it provides a working environment for them with peaceful environment. They offer a working desk or table, power outlets for charging gadgets, and a free Wi-Fi is imperative. Their interior design is simple but cater all the need for the working environment.


With the evolution and advancement in everything, coffee houses are also adopted to new needs and environment to cater the new lifestyle of people. Many café designs were successful and are running all over the world.

Coffee houses has a very old history. The concept of coffee house was unique, and interesting in older times and thus was adopted by every region where the coffee has reached. They have been a center of social interaction, and a leisure time to enjoy with friends and family, but also in many regions caused a social or political unrest due to the type of gathering and activities it had experienced from region to region. Nowadays, they have transformed with the changing times and catering according to the modern needs.

FAQs (Frequently asked Questions)

1. What is the difference between a coffee shop and coffee house?
Coffee shop serves drip coffee and food. The coffee houses are places where you can get artisan coffee, socialize with friends or can work.

2. What other beverages are served other than coffee in coffee houses?
Tea, liquor, cold coffee, cold drinks and soft drinks are also served.

3. Is coffee house one word?
Coffee house can be written as a compound word ‘Coffeehouse’, with hyphen as ‘Coffee-House’ or separately as well as ‘Coffee House’.

4. What is the most popular coffee place?
Most popular coffee place in the world is Starbucks with more than 30,000 chains (of June 2019) in the world making it the largest coffee place.

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