This Was The First Woman Licensed To Sell Coffee In The US

Coffee may often be associated with the United States while tea is with England, but in the early days of when the United States was still 13 colonies, tea was every bit as popular as it was in the "mother land."

Libby H. O'Connell writes in "The American Plate" that tea leaves were brought to the colonies from China by ship and the colonists were a strong new market for all of the tea accoutrements — tea kettles, teapots, tea linens, sugar bowls, and more. The deep love of tea, which was a significant part of the daily lives in the colonies, also fueled the anger that the colonists felt when the British made the British East India Company the sole supplier of tea to America. This, combined with anger over taxation without representation when a tax was levied upon tea by the British Parliament, helped to spur a group to take action in the form of the Boston Tea Party incident, which later was a catalyst for Revolutionary War, according to Britannica.

While tea was the preferred beverage for decades in what is now the United States of America, coffee was also present during that time. New York was the first city to sell coffee in the New World in the mid-1600s (via National Coffee Association of U.S.A.). It wasn't until the American Revolution that beverage tastes began to change.

A switch to coffee

During the Revolutionary War, coffee gained greatly in popularity as tea was associated with the enemy — Britain, per "The American Plate." Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, "Coffee — the favorite drink of the civilized world." In fact, as a result of the challenges that the colonies faced regarding tea, it was considered by those who supported the war to be patriotic to choose coffee over tea (per PBS).

While Americans may have started to drink coffee in greater numbers during the Revolutionary War, the first person to be licensed to trade coffee in the colonies was Dorothy Jones more than a century earlier in 1670, according to American Battlefield Trust. Jones owned a tavern in Boston from which she sold coffee and chocolate. The New England Historical Society reports that Jones was originally from Wales and applied for and received her license to operate her business in 1670, which read "Mrs. Dorothy Jones, the wife of Mr. Morgan Jones, is approved of to keepe a house of publique Entertainment for the selling of Coffee & Chochaletto."

Jones' husband was often on the road as a minister and school teacher so she had to support herself, according to the New England Historical Society. A few years after opening her tavern, she began to sell wine and cider. During the years following Jones' success, more coffee shops opened up throughout the region furthering coffees availability and popularity.