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History and Politics Of The American Coffee House

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Coffee was imported to the United State in 1668 by the Dutch or British. In 1669 one of the first coffee houses located in Boston called the London Coffee House opened. Most of the customers were British soldiers or loyalists and they supported the British control of the United States. On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Green Dragon Coffee House attracted US citizens opposed to British rule.

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During the American Revolution citizens formed secret societies and groups to plan protests against British rule and taxation. They met at coffee house to formulate their plans. In 1773 men disguised as Mohawk Indians carrying axes and tomahawks boarded three British ships in the Boston Harbor and dumped chests of tea into the harbor.

It was called The Boston Tea Party. Many political figures and organizations were involved in planning this event like Daughters of Liberty and Sons of Liberty. They were disguised as Indians so they would not be recognized. When they boarded the ships, they threw 90 - 400 pound chests of tea into the harbor. The water level in the harbor was low so they had to stomp on the tea to make it sink.

The citizens went to safe houses after the incident. A member of the Daughters of Liberty suggested that the men and women disguise themselves to protect their identify. Drinking coffee became a political statement of US citizens opposed to British rule and taxation. Because the British imported tea this became an unpopular choice for citizens to drink.


During the Civil War coffee became the beverage of choice. It was rationed to the soldiers because it gave them the energy to keep fighting. The coffee tasted bitter because it was roasted over an open fire. The caffeine in coffee gave the soldiers energy, kept them awake, and improved their mood.

During the Depression the soup kitchens handed out coffee and donuts to patrons. It became an affordable drink during this era. Soup kitchens started to hand out soup, bread, and coffee as a regular part of their menu. The government rationed meat, cheese, butter, eggs, and coffee at this time to help families obtain food.


In the 1900's diners provided customers with inexpensive meals and coffee. They were known as a place to stop any time of day to get a cup of coffee and a satisfying meal. Diners were known for their dark roasts and automatic filter coffee machines. In the 1960's a popular coffee chain in New York was Chock Full of Nuts. They sold coffee, sandwiches and muffins for a modest price. They had about 80 coffee shops in New York City.

In the 1970's chain and independent coffee shops emerged in town and cities across the United States. In 1971 Alfred Peet taught other businessmen about roasting beans and this leads to coffee shops like Starbucks with freshly roasted beans and brewed coffee. In the 1980's Starbuck began to supply their coffee beans to restaurants, coffee houses, and shops.

Chain and specialty coffee shops today attract all kinds of people. Students, families, artists, and those that want to meet friends for social reasons go there. Many customers use their laptops with free WIFI for schoolwork or work projects. Some coffee houses have entertainment and speakers to attract customers. In 2023 the coffee house is a popular place for people to gather to discuss different topics.


The History of the US Coffee House, Daily Grind, January 2022

How Coffee Fueled Revolutions and Revolutionary Ideas by Jessica Pierce Rotondi, History,com Feb 11, 2020


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Anise Orange Coffee

Use a regular drip coffee maker for this recipe.

8 tablespoons of ground Columbian coffee

8 cups of water

1 teaspoon ground anise

zest or skin of one orange grated

1 packet or teaspoon of sugar

Add the coffee grounds and ingredients to grounds before brewing. Grind anise seed in an electric grinder of food processor. Grate orange peel using a zester or cheese grater. Add ground anise, orange zest and sugar to grounds. Brew the coffee and serve with cream, sugar, or black.

Photo Source: Flicker: Alan Levine

Coffee Au Lait

2 cups of hot brewed coffee

1 cup milk

1 cup light cream

Sugar (optional)

Keep the coffee warm after is it brewed. In a saucepan on the stove over medium heat combine the milk and cream. Heat until hot but do not boil. Beat milk mixture with whisk or hand mixer until foamy. Pour coffee into cups and pour cream/milk mixture on top. Add sugar if desired. Serves 2

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