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Adam Dant’s Coffee House Map

November 30, 2016
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  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

Adam Dant’s Maps are available to buy from TAG FINE ARTS

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

3 Responses leave one →
  1. November 30, 2016

    A good exposé or potted history by Adam today. The coffee shop culture is still a growth area ‘just’ but will be on the ebb soon like old father Thames. They say three cups a day keeps nasty’s away. I like Sam Pepys go to these houses, a better name than shops. If you only drink coffee – no problem when you drive a car. Is the map also a tea-towel. A nice piece by GA today. John PS there is still room for more reinvention such as auto recognition when a regular customer enters a coffee house such as ‘Hi Adam’ More upgrading on some of the smaller houses décor wise.

  2. November 30, 2016

    Oh for a time machine and a wander round the coffee houses. Here, GA, take this by way of thanks:

  3. James K permalink
    December 28, 2016

    Hmmmm, we got a lot of coffee shops, but no “penny universities”!
    On the lookout for a space in shoreditch area for another idea at moment, maybe we should recreate the vibe of the old london coffee houses, in terms of furniture/ atmosphere and even Victorian coffee styles!
    And turn them into political/ business hotbeds, just like the old ones..
    Need them desperately at the moment…

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