Idler Walks: A Coffeehouse Tour of London with Dr Matthew Green

Matthew Green|Saturday 16th February

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Join historian Dr Matthew Green for an immersive tour of London’s original — and best — coffeehouses in the City of London.

London’s coffee craze began in a muddy churchyard in the heart of the City where, from 1652, an eccentric Greek with a twirly moustache, colourful turban, and preposterous English accent first sold a foul-looking liquid to the public. London historian Dr Matthew Green will meet you there to tell the story of how “bitter Mohammedan gruel” transformed the face of the city, brought people together, and inspired brilliant ideas that made the modern, enlightened world.

Witness the rise and fall of London’s first coffeehouse proprietor, Pasqua Rosée, the man who triggered a momentous coffeehouse boom as the new drink triumphed over kings, fires, and women fulminating against that “newfangled abominable heathenish liquor called COFFEE” that had reduced their men to effeminate gossipers. Wander past the sites of Europe’s oldest coffeehouses in the labyrinthine alleys and secret courtyards of the City, including Lloyd’s, Garraway’s and Jonathan’s, the triumvirate of coffeehouses that powered the British Empire.

Immerse yourself in all that went on inside, from Sir Isaac Newton’s dolphin dissections at the Grecian Coffeehouse to inquisitions of insanity at the Hoxton Square, Samuel Pepys’s metaphysical debates at Bowman’s to corrupt wheeler-dealing in stocks and shares at Jonathan’s; auctions by candle at Garraway’s to the issuing of brutal literary judgements at Button’s. Meet Charles II and furious tavern-keepers hidden along the route.

Feel a pang of nostalgia for at an age that cherished the face-to-face exchange of ideas where you could begin a conversation with anyone in the world by demanding “What News Have You?” in an increasingly virtual world as our high streets are invaded by bland Starbucks clones.

With expert commentary and a cornucopia of historical anecdotes, this is a hugely original, entertaining, and informative walk.

About the Speaker

Dr Matthew Green is an historian and broadcaster, with a PhD in the history of London from Oxford University. He writes historical features for the Telegraph and Guardian, appears in documentaries on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and gives talks all over London. He is the co-founder of Unreal City Audio, which produces immersive, critically acclaimed tours of London as live events and audio downloads. His first book, London: A Travel Guide Through Time is published by Penguin and available now.



Saturday 16 February


Meet at 11am


Meet by the steps of St Michael’s Church, Cornhill.


1 hour 45 mins




Free shots of 17th-century coffee, Idler tote bag with a copy of the magazine, badge and bookmark

To Book

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