19 May 2013 2.30pm Book Now
Dr Matthew Green London historian and broadcaster Dr Green is an expert in the social and cultural history of 18th-century London. He has an Oxford PhD, writes features for the Guardian and Telegraph, broadcasts on BBC London News, Radio and BBC4, and gives sell-out talks at the Idler Academy, Selfridges, 5 X 15, and Port Eliot. He is co-author of Hackney: An Uncommon History (2012) and a long pamphlet, The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse, to be published via the Idler Academy imminently.
Join actors, musicians, and Dr Matthew Green for an immersive, critically acclaimed tour of London’s original – and best – coffeehouses in the City.
Listen to an audio sample of the live tour
The streets of London are awash with chain coffee shops. But most are a dismal incarnation of London’s historic coffee culture: a heady brew of wit, wisdom, innovation…and crucified crocodiles.
London’s love affair with coffee can be traced back 350 years to a muddy churchyard in the heart of the City of London. Dr Green will meet you in this churchyard for it was here, in 1652, that a Greek visionary with a twirly moustache and shocking English accent first sold a foul-looking liquid to the public. Pasqua’s ‘Bitter Mohammedan gruel’ transformed the face of the city forever, brought people together, and inspired brilliant ideas that shaped the modern world. The stock exchange, eBay, a scientific revolution, literary innovation, the free press, even British democracy itself: all can be traced back to coffee. And that’s not bad for a substance that was commonly compared to soot, ink, oil, mud, porridge, and excrement. It was coffee, not tea, that built the British Empire.
Hear about the meteoric rise of the coffeehouses in the 17th century as you weave past their original sites; see costumed actors leap out and perform real debates that raged around their candlelit tables hundreds of years ago; hear Dr Green tell stories of the kaleidoscopic activities that went on inside their walls: from dolphin dissections at the Grecian Coffeehouse to lethal duels over Latin grammar at Tom’s, slave auctions at Garraway’s to ventriloquism and viper decapitations at John’s, late-night debauchery at Moll’s to poetic composition at Button’s.
Marvel at a world where you could begin a conversation with anyone you liked simply by yelling four sacred words: “What News Have You!”; feel a tinge of nostalgia for this lost world of lively conviviality, unbridled creativity, and intellectual enlightenment as you gaze at the bland, tax-doding clones have usurped the City.
We will finish at the Taylor Street Baristas’ Coffee Gallery in Monument for an optional coffee-tasting session. You’ll sip a range of exotic coffees brewed by world-class baristas accompanied by a short talk on the alchemy of coffee preparation for a discount rate of £5.00.
10% of all ticket sales will goto Project Waterfall, helping to supply African coffee-producing countries with clean drinking water.
Finishing with an optional coffee tasting session at Taylor Street Baristas’ Coffee Gallery in Monument.