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Adam Dant’s Map Of The Coffee Houses

January 21, 2014
by the gentle author

Click on the map to enlarge and read the stories of the Coffee Houses

These days, London is riddled with Coffee Shops but, at the start, there was just the Jamaica Coffee House, which was opened in 1652 by Pasqua Rosee in St Michael’s Alley in the City of London. More than three hundred and fifty years later, it is still open and so I met Adam Dant there yesterday to learn about his new map – which you see above – drawn in the shape of a coffee pot.

“I’ve always wanted to do a map of the Coffee Houses, because it marks a moment when intellectual activity had a parity with mercantile activity. They called them the penny universities,” he explained, eagerly quaffing a glass of Italian red wine in the mid-afternoon. “And it wasn’t just coffee they sold but alcohol too,” he added, fleshing out the historical background as he sipped his glass, “so you could get drunk in one corner and sober up with coffee in another.”

The first Coffee Houses became popular meeting places, facilitating introductions between those of similar interests, fostering deals, trading, and business enterprises. Lloyds of London began as a Coffee House, opened by Edward Lloyd in Lombard St around 1688, where the customers were sailors, merchants and shipowners who brokered insurance among themselves, leading to the creation of the insurance market.

“People complain about the proliferation of Coffee Houses today,” admitted Adam Dant with a sigh, before emptying his glass, “But there were thirty here in these streets behind the Royal Exchange, until a fire that started in a peruke shop burnt them all down. The only reason we know where they all were is because somebody was commissioned to draw a map of them, assessing the damage.”

Executed in ink of an elegant coffee hue and bordered with Coffee House tokens, Adam Dant’s beautiful map gives you the stories and the locations of nineteen different Coffee Houses in the City. Fulfilled with such devoted attention to detail, Adam’s cartography of caffeine led me to assume this must be a labour of love for one who is addicted to coffee, yet – to my surprise – I discovered this was not the case.”I drink expresso at Allpress in Redchurch St,” Adam confessed to me, “but the best coffee is at Present, the gentlemen’s clothiers, in Shoreditch High St. I like to drink three cups before dinner and one after, but, fortunately, I am not a creature of habit and I could easily go three months without drinking coffee.”

Adam Dant at the Jamaica Coffee House in St Michael’s Alley

Map copyright © Adam Dant

You may like to take a look at some of Adam Dant’s other maps

Map of Hoxton Square

Hackney Treasure Map

Map of the History of Shoreditch

Map of Shoreditch in the Year 3000

Map of Shoreditch as New York

Map of Shoreditch as the Globe

Map of Shoreditch in Dreams

Map of the History of Clerkenwell

Map of the Journey to the Heart of the East End

Map of the History of Rotherhithe

Map of Industrious Shoreditch

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Teresa permalink
    January 21, 2014

    What a wonderful post! Drinking coffee is such a social able past time. It’s a shame so many of these big chains are everywhere these days, with there uncleared tables and super large options. The super map made fun reading whilst drinking my morning cup of tea!

  2. SBW permalink
    January 21, 2014

    great – thanks – as always. sbw

  3. January 21, 2014

    One more of the fine drawings of Mr Adam Dant. Thank you for this story!

    Love & Peace

  4. January 21, 2014

    How I love Adam Dant’s maps! I keep hoping he’ll want to immerse himself in some West or North Riding town and present us with his map – or maps – of the area.

  5. Helena McCann permalink
    January 21, 2014

    Is there any way of buying a print of this beautiful piece of work?

  6. Roger Carr permalink
    January 21, 2014

    “cartography of caffeine” . . . . saucy thing you!

  7. January 21, 2014

    Just a note on John Tawell (Jerusalem coffee house, left side half-way down): he was transported to Australia, and while nominally a Quaker, was generally regarded as a Bad Sort. He grew rich as a dispenser, and ostentatiously bought and broke up barrels of rum, letting the contents pour into Sydney Harbour. He later made it back to London and murdered his mistress, making his escape by train, dressed as a Quaker. A telegram got to London before he could.

  8. Helen Mac permalink
    January 22, 2014

    Adam Dant’s maps are a delight. Can I buy them anywhere?

  9. Patrick D Morris (@Patric_1M) permalink
    January 22, 2014

    The map is wonderful and such a font of information the first age of coffee in London. Is this available as a print to purchase anywhere, any way? Cheers Patrick

  10. February 10, 2014

    When my house was set on fire I wondered if my insurance would cover it. My rep said,”insurance was invented because of The Great Fire of London”. Of course you are covered!

  11. Duncan permalink
    February 26, 2014

    I have some of his original Donald Parsnips Daily Journals. They’re brilliant. Love his work.

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