Books and Bevies

Written Lori Thiessen

It’s seems like such a radical idea – having books and beverages in the same space, and yet there is nothing like drinking a hot cup of tea and reading a good book. When Starbucks and Chapters joined forces a few years back, it seemed like a ground breaking partnership.

Since I’ve been working on this project, I’ve found some interesting historical data that proves Starbucks and Chapters aren’t so unique. In Brian Cowan’s invaluable book The Social Life of Coffee, he writes that some booksellers and coffeehouses developed partnerships so that books could be sold in the coffeehouse. Book auctions were quite commonplace in 17th century London and the coffeehouse or tavern was the preferred venue.

The customers for these auctions generally wealthy bourgeoisie or aristocrats, though if you could pay for your bid, then anybody was allowed in.

Short’s Coffeehouse in Oxford was given a library of texts from a group of young Christ Church College students in the late 17th century for the enjoyment, enlightenment and education of their fellow students.

Some 17th century coffeehouses were the centres of intellectual discussion and debate, especially in the university town of Oxford. But much like any free-wheeling social arena, the intellectual debate could vary greatly and the information obtained there could be quite spurious.

Remind anyone of internet chatrooms?

Q: Why do you think the modern day coffee shop isn’t a hot bed of intellectual debate?

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!


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