also coffeehouse, "house of entertainment where guests are supplied with coffee and other refreshments," 1610s, from coffee + house (n.). In late 17c. London they were important political centers, serving as clubs did for a later generation; each sect and party had a chosen one of its own.
The coffee-house must not be dismissed with a cursory mention. It might indeed, at that time , have been not improperly called a most important political institution. No Parliament had sat for years. The municipal council of the city had ceased to speak the sense of the citizens. Public meetings, harangues, resolutions, and the rest of the modern machinery of agitation had not yet come into fashion. Nothing resembling the modern newspaper existed. In such circumstances, the coffee-were the chief organs through which the public opinion of the metropolis vented itself. [Macaulay, "History of England"]
updated on January 10, 2018