10 Oldest Coffee Houses in the World
Judging by the rise of Starbucks over the past three decades, Americans are obsessed with coffee. But we're a young country and our coffee houses — even the independent ones — are still relatively new.
In Europe, some establishments have been open since the 17th century, having served famous patrons we've only ever read about in history books. These are the oldest coffee houses in the world that are still in business today.
10. Café De La Pix
Year established: 1862
Location: Paris, France
Bottom line: Located opposite the Paris Opera, Café De La Pix became a popular meeting place during the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867 and has been packed ever since. Famous patrons include Émile Zola, Tchaikovsky, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde, the Prince of Wales, King Edward VIl and Marlene Dietrich.
The café is so famous, it was featured in the Ernest Hemingway short story "My Old Man." It's also depicted in "The Aristocats," as Walt Disney wanted to pay homage to the place he visited while serving in World War I as a Red Cross ambulance driver.
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9. Café Tortoni
Year established: 1858
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bottom line: Founded by a French immigrant, Café Tortoni is known for ornate Victorian-era interiors and has been visited by many notable people over the decades, from Albert Einstein to Katy Perry and Frances Ford Coppola.
Café Tortoni continues to be one of the top tourist attractions in Buenos Aires to this day. It was and still very much is a popular site for poetry readings, concerts and tango performances.
8. Caffè San Carlo
Year established: 1822
Location: Turino, Italy
Bottom line: Caffè San Carlo has been a meeting place for creatives for centuries. The French novelist and author of "The Three Musketeers," Alexandre Dumas, is just one of the many famous people who frequented this establishment.
It opened under the name Caffè di Piazza d’Armi and became a haunt of intellectuals and patriots. During the Risorgimento (the movement for Italian unification that lasted from 1848 to 1871), it was closed by city authorities several times for suspected subversive activity.
Today, it caters to tourists and locals alike. It's not only a coffee shop but also an all-day dining establishment.
7. Caffè Pedrocchi
Year established: 1831
Location: Padua, Italy
Bottom line: Coffeemaker Antonio Pedrocchi moved from Bergamo to Padua to build his grand café in 1831. It soon gained the moniker "open door café" because it remained open 24 hours until 1916.
Today, the café has regular hours but is still a meeting place for locals and tourists visiting Padua. Its signature drink is Caffè Pedrocchi — coffee with mint cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
6. Antico Caffè Greco
Year established: 1760
Location: Rome, Italy
Bottom line: Antico Caffè Greco is among Rome's oldest coffee shops. Over the past 2.5 centuries, famed artists, writers and musicians — including Mendelssohn, Wagner, Ibsen, Keats, Byron, Liszt, Stendhal, Shelley, Casanova and Goethe — have all frequented this historic coffee shop.
While it's not cheap — patrons can easily spend about $40 on coffee and a pastry, it's said to be well worth the price for not only the food but also the historical value.
5. Caffè Florian
Year established: 1720
Location: Venice, Italy
Bottom line: Caffè Florian was founded by Floriano Francesconi, who wanted to create a place for Venetians to gather to enjoy coffee, music and conversation. When it opened, Florian quickly became popular among the local aristocracy, and it was frequented by famed poets, writers and artists, such as Casanova, Lord Byron and Proust.
Today, it's still a well-loved local haunt known for its selection of coffee and pastries. The Casanova hot chocolate is the house specialty and features mint-flavored cream, white chocolate flakes and Florian's exclusive cocoa blend.
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4. Café Tomaselli
Location: Salzburg, Austria
Bottom line: In 1700, Frenchman Johann Fontaine got approval from the Austrian government to sell chocolate, tea and coffee to create Cafegewölb Fontaine in the Goldgasse. After his death, the café changed hands several times before Anton Staiger, a majordomo to the archbishop, took over the license in 1753. In 1764, he purchased the prestigious building in which the cafe is located today.
Confectioner Carl Tomaselli bought the café in 1852, and it has been in operation under the same family ever since. Over the years, Café Tomaselli has been a gathering place for famous artists, musicians and philosophers, among them Mozart, who was a regular.
3. Café Procope
Year established: 1686
Location: Paris, France
Bottom line: Located in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood of Paris, Café Procope has been a popular meeting place for intellectuals, artists and politicians throughout the decades. Famous patrons included Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones, Thomas Jefferson, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte (a historical letter from him is on display at the establishment.)
While it's sometimes called the oldest continuously running café, it's not — it closed in 1872 and did not reopen to the public until the 1920s.
2. Queen’s Lane Coffee House
Year established: 1654
Location: Oxford, England
Bottom line: Queen's Lane Coffee House was established by Cirques Jobson, a Levantine Jew from Syria. While it claims to be the oldest continually run coffee house in Europe, it has only been in its current location since 1970.
It was here that English philosopher Jeremy Bentham developed the concept of utilitarianism, a theory that states an action's moral worth is determined by how useful it is in promoting the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people.
Today, the coffee house is popular with both tourists and nearby students attending Queen's College, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.
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1. Tahmis Kahvesi
Year established: 1635
Location: Gaziantep, Turkey
Bottom line: This is the oldest-known establishment serving Turkish coffee and desserts. Not much is known about its beginnings, but Tahmis means "the place where the coffee is pounded." While it's unclear who started the business, it's been passed from father to son for generations.
While its Turkish coffee has raving reviews, the coffee house is equally famous for "menengeç kahve," or pistachio-flavored coffee, served much like it was made 400 years ago.