Food - Drink
Italy's Long-Lasting Cultural Influence On American Coffeehouses
By ERICA MARTINEZ
The U.S. is home to countless cafes and coffeehouses, from ubiquitous Starbucks locations all over big cities to artsy and cozy artisan shops in small towns. However, the concept of a place to get together and enjoy coffee is hardly an American one, and Italian immigrants brought the concept of the modern coffee house to the USA.
The first recorded mention of a coffeehouse comes from Constantinople in 1555, and while early cafes flourished in Western Europe throughout the 17th century, America's first coffeehouse didn't open until 1676, in Boston, Massachusetts. The earliest American coffee spots didn't resemble those found in Europe, nor any found in the U.S. today.
American coffeehouses almost exclusively hosted businessmen and members of high society, except for women, who were banned from partaking. The popularity of these places began to wane in the early 1900s, but millions of Italian immigrants soon entered the U.S., and brought their coffeehouse knowledge and sensibilities with them.
At the time, coffeehouses in Venice were open to everyone, and even had coffee machines (first invented in 1901). Italians opened their own cafes in America using equipment and recipes from their home country, and today's cozy spots that offer cappuccinos, lattes, and snacks and treats are directly descended from Italy's influence.