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The Coffeehouse Tour

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Coming up:

Saturday 13th December, 11:30am Book now

Join actors, musicians and Dr Matthew Green for an immersive, critically-acclaimed tour of London’s original — and best — coffeehouses in the City of London.

With free shots of black and gritty 17th-century style coffee!

  • New! Try out our Coffeehouse Tour smartphone app here; watch the first ten minutes of the live tour on Vimeo here.

London’s coffee craze began in a muddy churchyard in the heart of the City where, from 1652, an eccentric Greek with a twirly moustache, colourful turban, and preposterous English accent first sold a foul-looking liquid to the public. Charismatic young London historian Dr Matthew Green will meet you there to tell the story of how “bitter Mohammedan gruel” transformed the face of the city, brought people together, and inspired brilliant ideas that made the modern, enlightened world.

Witness the rise and fall of London’s first coffeehouse proprietor, Pasqua Rosée, the man who triggered a momentous coffeehouse boom as the new drink triumphed over kings, fires, and women fulminating against that “newfangled abominable heathenish liquor called COFFEE” that had reduced their men to effeminate gossipers. Wander past the sites of Europe’s oldest coffeehouses in the labyrinthine alleys and secret courtyards of the City, including Lloyd’s, Garraway’s and Jonathan’s, the triumvirate of coffeehouses that powered the British Empire.

Immerse yourself in all that went on inside, from Sir Isaac Newton’s dolphin dissections at the Grecian Coffeehouse to inquisitions of insanity at the Hoxton Square, Samuel Pepys’s metaphysical debates at Bowman’s to corrupt wheeler-dealing in stocks and shares at Jonathan’s; auctions by candle at Garraway’s to the issuing of brutal literary judgements at Button’s. Meet Charles II and furious tavern-keepers hidden along the route.

Feel a pang of nostalgia for at an age that cherished the face-to-face exchange of ideas where you could begin a conversation with anyone in the world by demanding “What News Have You?” in an increasingly virtual world as our high streets are invaded by bland Starbucks clones.

With dramatic performances, expert commentary, and a cornucopia of historical anecdotes – all set to beautiful violin music in the most historic part of the city – this is a hugely original, entertaining, and informative alternative to more traditional guided walks. The tour lasts around 1hr 45 mins

Your Guide

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Dr Matthew Green

In 2009, Dr Matthew Green completed a PhD in the history of the mass media at Oxford University. Unmoved by the prospect of a cloistered academic life he turned to popular history and now writes for the Guardian and Telegraph, appears on BBC TV and radio, teaches a wide range of historical subjects, and gives sell-out talks at the Idler Academy, 5x15, Port Eliot and elsewhere. He is currently writing a book on 17th and 18th-century coffeehouses.