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The Map Of The Coffee Houses

April 21, 2018
by the gentle author

Each Saturday, we shall be featuring one of Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND from the forthcoming book of his extraordinary cartography to be published by Spitalfields Life Books & Batsford on June 7th.

Please support this ambitious venture by pre-ordering a copy, which will be signed by Adam Dant with an individual drawing on the flyleaf and sent to you on publication. CLICK TO ORDER A SIGNED COPY OF MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND BY ADAM DANT

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


Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND is a mighty monograph collecting together all your favourite works by Spitalfields Life‘s cartographer extraordinaire in a beautiful big hardback book.

Including a map of London riots, the locations of early coffee houses and a colourful depiction of slang through the centuries, Adam Dant’s vision of city life and our prevailing obsessions with money, power and the pursuit of pleasure may genuinely be described as ‘Hogarthian.’

Unparalleled in his draughtsmanship and inventiveness, Adam Dant explores the byways of English cultural history in his ingenious drawings, annotated with erudite commentary and offering hours of fascination for the curious.

The book includes an extensive interview with Adam Dant by The Gentle Author.

Adam Dant’s  limited edition prints are available to purchase through TAG Fine Arts

4 Responses leave one →
  1. April 21, 2018

    Strange how, almost from the moment they appeared in London, coffee houses were associated with sedition. From Charles II onward, monarchs and their governments used any excuse to close them down. Perhaps the peruke shop fire wasn’t so much bad luck as a clandestine
    W(h)ig operation?

  2. John Barrett permalink
    April 21, 2018

    I like the coffee map !Adam your are such a talent. Us poets have been coupled with coffee houses from the year dot, we still meet in them a gathering of poets and the caffeine sends our words to new heights. Thanks Adam you have worked your magic again on the coffee map. John the Poetry Society, Bristol – PS perhaps a poets meeting places map including Will Shakespeare also so many top poets were here and still are in London.

  3. April 21, 2018

    Maybe I “need” more coffee, in order to be more alert, but isn’t this the first time we have actually SEEN the artist, Adam Dant? So glad to see the talented gent here — His maps are truly unique and amazing. I trust the friendly ghosts of Bawden and Piper are grinning fondly, saying
    “That’s our guy.”
    Many thanks for shining a light, GA.

  4. Helen Breen permalink
    April 21, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, I do enjoy examining Adam Dent’s detailed maps of olde London. Interesting to see the “New York” coffee house described as the “center of intelligence for all connected with the American trade.” By 1750 New York was surpassing Boston and Salem in trans-Atlantic commerce.

    But that was all before what King George called “the late unpleasantness” …

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