Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

café means more or less the same thing virtually anywhere in the world: a place to drink coffee or another hot beverage, or perhaps even a cold drink—sometimes alcoholic, sometimes not. Most cafés offer snacks, if not full menus. The original idea, however, was subtly different.

The distant origins of the café lie in the coffeehouse and the coffee craze that gripped Europe in the seventeenth century, a fact reflected in French and Italian, whose individual words for “coffee,” “coffeehouse,” and “café” are identical. The late Henri Enjalbert, an eminent French geographer and oenologist, was perhaps the first to speak of a “drinks revolution” in the seventeenth century, which led not only to the refinement of claret, cognac, and champagne as we now know them but also to the discovery of coffee, tea, and chocolate by Europeans. See chocolate, post-columbian and tea.