Queen’s Lane Coffee House Oxford
~ Est 1654 ~
Queen’s Lane Coffee House was founded in Oxford in the aftermath of the English Civil War. It predates the naming of New York, the Great Plague and the Fire of London.
Before coffee was popularised in Western Europe in the mid 1600s, most people drank beer with breakfast. Water was often unsafe to drink but the ingredients and process of making beer made a healthier alternative. Beer soup was made, beaten with eggs and sweetened with sugar or honey. From the start of the day, a good proportion of the population may have been drunk!
Coffee was welcomed as “the great soberer” by England’s Puritans, who came to prominence under Cromwell’s rule in the 1650s. They led the campaign for its popular acceptance. A verse from 1674 praises coffee as a drink “That heals the stomach, makes the genius quicker/ Relieves the memory, revives the sad/ And cheers the Spirits, without making mad. . .” Further history of coffee can be found in “Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants” by Wolfgang Schivelbusch
Queen’s Lane Coffee House stands on the corner of Queen’s Lane and the High Street, and has played a part in Oxfords colourful history.
Here in 1654, Cirques Jobson is said to have started selling the new exotic drink, coffee. Queen’s Lane Coffee House is reputed to be the oldest continually working coffee house in Europe.
During the seventeenth Century, the coffee house became a favourite haunt of scholars to debate issues of their time.
Known as Harper’s in the second half of the eighteenth century, the coffee house became popular with Oxford’s students, particularly those of Magdalen, Queens and St Edmund Hall.
The Coffee House has been in the care of Aylin and her family for the past 30 years. Today it still buzzes with life, as students, tourists and local Oxford people enjoy its laid back atmosphere, its wide variety of snacks, meals and drinks – and of course the good taste of coffee!