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Watch: How Coffee Shops Brew Up a Revolution

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A brief history of the coffee house’s role in stirring things up

Think the idea of coffee houses as places for intellectuals to gather and discuss ideas is just a product of the hipster java renaissance? Think again. As early as the 16th century, shops selling the world’s favorite caffeinated beverage acted as meeting spots and headquarters for groups of students, thought leaders, and even revolutionaries, producing a great deal of social and political change despite occasional adversity. Check out today's episode of Forklore, above, to lean more.

Because they were known as hubs of free speech and community organizing, the earliest coffee houses became a source of stress and fear for many government leaders. In 1511, Khair Beg, the governor of Mecca, closed all of the city's coffee houses; in Constantinople, Grand Vizier Mehmet Koprulu banned not just coffee houses but coffee as well. In Europe, drinkers seeking more intellectual — and less boozy — conversation left the beer halls and taverns and took up in coffee houses instead, where it's rumored developments as wide ranging as the stock exchange and various newspapers were conceived. It's proof that once someone's had their morning cup, anything is possible.

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