London’s Coffeehouses

The association of coffee with the Ottoman Empire predominated in the visual culture surrounding coffee for many years. Early coffeehouses in England were decorated with a painted representation of the turbaned head of a Turkish man at the entrance.


As was the practice in the East, coffee had to be drunk very hot. This was a novelty in Europe which created the need for new equipment and wares for coffee drinking and preparation. The first coffeepots in England were made of tin or copper and imitated the look of Turkish pots with their high domed conical lids.

Detail of Augustin Courtauld’s Britannia London silver coffeepot of 1713, showing maker’s mark (‘CO’ with a fleur de lys) and hallmarks denoting silver purity, place and date.

While plain coffeepots were used in public coffeehouses, silver coffeepots like this one were prized possessions in the home, brought out to display the taste and wealth of their owners. This coffeepot was designed and made by Augustin Courtauld (1685/6-1751), a craftsman from the Protestant community of Huguenots who fled religious persecution in France and established themselves in London in the late 1600s.

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