Everything one needs to know about the sudden rise of coffee in the 1770s can be found in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail, written a couple of years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Weary after a long ride, John Adams asked his hostess for a cup of tea, provided that it was “honestly smuggled” to retain a sense of patriotism during the early phases of the American Revolution. But despite already being a prominent figure at the time, Adams was rebuked because the household simply no longer carried tea at all, with it being essentially considered contraband.
Without missing a beat, Adams would become one of the first known examples of an American who made the switch to coffee, acknowledging once he had a suitable replacement that tea must be “universally renounced.” As the burgeoning country grew into itself, coffee would be at the forefront both for practical and symbolic reasons, making coffee houses like the iconic Green Dragon Tavern an essential part of the exchange of ideas in the New World.
Of course, coffee houses also became the setting of revolution far beyond the borders of the United States. Building on the success of the American Revolution, French revolutionaries were also known to meet in coffeehouses for political discussion, utilizing the stimulating drink to help sow the seeds of revolution the same way their American counterparts had.
Although time would prove that the United States was indeed big enough for both coffee and tea lovers, the connection that the country has with coffee is a fundamental one that has only gained strength over the centuries. While Adams was a famous coffee convert, other U.S. presidents like Teddy Roosevelt would become fully enraptured by the powers of coffee, with the iconic early 20th century leader reportedly drinking as much as a gallon of coffee a day (this isn’t recommended). When cowboys blazed a trail out west and went hunting for gold, it was the coffee bean that often accompanied them to the frontier in order to provide a boost of energy when needed. From the American Revolution all the way through to the modern phenomenon of gathering at coffee houses around the country, coffee has become an essential part of everyday American life and a crucial component of how we discuss the affairs and revolutions of the day.
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