An Incomplete and Probably Inaccurate History of Coffee and a Map of the First Coffee Houses that Began in Exchange Alley, London 1652.

I’ve been working on this for a couple of weeks now as a follow-on from my ‘Map of Brighton from the Latest Discoveries.’  I was interested in this area of London – Cornhill and Exchange Alley (now Change Alley) – partly due to an old map I found online showing the extent of a fire in the 17th century.  The buildings were so packed together and the map described who lived in each place and what each person did.  In 1652, the first coffee houses sprang up in the area and they became pivotal to the spread of information through discussion, lectures,  newspapers and pamphlets, to  the start of the stock exchange and insurance and to the fields of science, literature and politics in Restoration England.  The map was aesthetically beautiful and I liked the shape the roads and alleys made and the feel of the lettering itself.  All things are built from layers, including history and geography and ‘An Incomplete and Probably Inaccurate History of Coffee and a Map of the First Coffee Houses that began in Exchange Alley, London in 1652’ layers both the history of coffee and the geography of London to make a whole.

To see an interactive version of the map that is easier to read, click here.


  1. Ben Leggett - reply

    Hi Helen,

    Love what you’ve done with the map! I’m a drinks historian who has a non for profit blog on exactly that. I’ve researched and written about the history of the coffee house in two parts and your map is by far the most encompassing not to mention the coolest. I’d love to incorporate it into the article with all links, and references back to you.

    Would you be wiling to share a medium res image with me for this purpose?

    Cheers Ben – DC

    • hcfaadmin - reply

      HI Ben,
      Thanks for your interest (and your compliments). I’d love to be included in an article – I’ll send you a medium res image as requested and let me know when the article is likely to go out so I can link back too.

      Take care,


  2. Rik Sowden - reply

    This is amazing! Really reminds me of this one: (though I imagine you’ve seen it!).

    I am a Masters student and have been working on a mapping project at university and need to produce a blog post – would you mind if I used your map (credit given, of course!) for this?

    Similarly, I need to make a small poster for our end-of-project close and wondered if I could use your map for this? Again, I will naturally credit your work!

    This is a lovely piece of mapping.

    Best, Rik

    • Helen Cann - reply

      Hi Rik,
      Thanks for the compliment! Yes, the coffee map was exactly inspired by the Cornhill fire damage map – I love it!
      And yes, I’m happy for you to use the image for the end of your project close and credit it to me.
      Good luck with your Masters and best wishes,

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