What were some of the first coffee houses in the US?


Quick Answer

The London Coffee House, The King's Arms, the coffee house of the Globe Inn, the Exchange Coffee House and the Tontine Coffee House were some of the first coffee houses in the United States. The London Coffee House opened in Boston in 1689, where proprietor Benjamin Harris also sold books.

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Full Answer

The London Coffee House's name refers principally to the aesthetic of its layout, which was chiefly British, with a main sitting room where men read, smoked, discussed and drank. In his book "When In Boston," Jim Vrabel reports that John Sparry opened a coffee house in Boston in October of 1676, but Vrabel does not give its name.

Circa 1696, The King's Arms opened in New York City. Circa 1700, Samuel Carpenter opened a coffee house adjacent to the Globe Inn in Philadelphia. Carpenter was the Inn's owner and operator. In 1754, William Bradford opened a coffee house in Philadelphia, also called the London Coffee House, though it was not affiliated with the Boston version. Merchants provided the money to establish the London Coffee House, which promptly became a site for their gatherings.

Similarly, stockbrokers collectively established Tontine Coffee House in New York City circa 1793 in the vicinity of modern day Wall Street. Tontine's proximity to the harbor and the hub of New York City commerce made it a lively arrival site for commodities and slave labor.

Established in 1809, the Boston Exchange Coffee House also served as a hotel, exchange, center for maritime intelligence and general meeting place for local merchants. It burned down in 1818.

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