Chapter Notes

Chapter 18: Coffee and the Temperance Movement


Temperance Cafe

Over the course of the 19th century coffee consumption had spread throughout most urban areas in the United Kingdom with the market having been re-energised by a buoyant prohibitionist campaign that promoted the 'coffee tavern' as a substitute for alcohol driven bars and pubs. Though the coffee taverns – as they were called in deference to the pub-drinking working-class culture – were a relatively short-lived phenomenon, they helped to establish coffee as a drink in areas where it hadn't been consumed before.

Coffee Tavern

The eventual failure of the coffee taverns lay mainly with the fallacious idea that they could be imposed from above on the working-classes by a gentrified Temperance Movement whose leaders often perceived those they wished to 'help' as little more than recalcitrant children. Even though the organisers tried to model their coffee taverns on the indigenous places of leisure – the alcohol- based pubs – that had been part and parcel of ordinary neighbourhood life, they did so in such a patronizing manner that antagonisms were bound to fester amongst those many workers who had a strong sense of independence and pride and who simply wanted a place to relax and imbibe without any moral baggage being heaped on them.

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