Coffeehouses, places of refreshment in which coffee is the principal beverage served. After coffee was brought from Turkey to western Europe, a coffeehouse was opened in Vienna in 1645. Similar establishments soon were thriving in several European cities. London's first coffeehouse began business about 1652.
Coffeehouses were particularly numerous in England during the 18th century. They sometimes furnished food and lodging. Each had its special circle of regular guests and visitors, and some of them became centers of literary, scientific, religious, or political discussion. In 1675 King Charles II denounced coffeehouses as "seminaries of sedition" and sought to suppress them.
The English coffeehouses had their counterparts in America during colonial days. In the late colonial period, coffeehouses flourished in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. There patriots met to air their grievances and plot against the British.
Coffeehouses gained new popularity in the 1960's, especially in Great Britain and the United States. They were frequented by young people, attracted by folksinging, poetry readings, and discussions of contemporary issues.