The traditional drink of Arabs, coffee was introduced to western Europe in the mid 17th century. Like tea and chocolate, it was soon to pose a serious threat to the popularity of wine.
The first English coffee house was reputedly opened in a room in the Angel Inn in Oxford’s High Street in 1650 and within a couple of years the trend had taken hold in London. By the 1660s, coffee houses were challenging the traditional English tavern, and not only because they served this novel beverage which was very cheap and had the added advantage of not making you drunk. Samuel Pepys, among others, frequented these ‘penny universities’ in order to catch up on the city’s gossip or join a political debate.