Sunday, November 22, 2009

Colonial Coffee House

Guess what the newest exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg is - a coffee house!

From The Washington Post:
"Now [Williamsburg] is home to the modest Charlton's Coffeehouse, built from scratch on historic foundations and billed as the only 18th-century coffeehouse in America."

"At some point in the 1760s a young immigrant named Richard Charlton used the building -- adjacent to the Colonial Capitol -- as a coffeehouse, serving a brew that likely would have tasted burned and bitter to the contemporary palate."

Back in the day, coffee was a man's drink and men hung out at the coffeehouse like it was an intellectual pub. The American Revolution was planned in coffeehouses.

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Colonial coffeehouses, following the London model, became powerful social catalysts, providing an excellent forum for the exchange of ideas and the distribution of news.

And, of course, people drank coffee at home -- along with tea and chocolate. In case you've ever wondered about the difference between a coffee pot, a tea pot, and a chocolate pot:

This is a chocolate pot.

Notice the removable finial - attached to the body of the pot by a chain so it isn't lost.

Chocolate pots have removable finials because the thick colonial cocoa needed to be stirred before it could be poured.

"A molinet, or stirring rod" would be inserted in the hole revealed when the finial taken off.

This is a coffee pot.
Coffee pots are "tall and tapered, with a curved pouring spout and a wooden handle to protect the pourer's hand from the heat-conducting metal."

And this is a tea pot. Tea pots, as the song says, are short and stout.

Tea was also an important beverage in colonial America leading up to the Revolution.

Remember, when the tax on tea was levied without their consent (no representation), outraged colonists reacted with The Boston Tea Party (December 1773).

You don't mess with a person's cuppa. :)

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