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The History of Leicester Coffee House Company

The Leicester Coffee and Cocoa House Company began life on 25th July 1877. We took our name from this company that combined commercial profit with the benefit of townspeople and was formed ‘to establish houses, rooms, coffee carts, stalls and other places’ and ‘combats temptation to imbibe intoxicants by providing nutritious and healthful beverages at the easy price of a penny a pint.’

The company was born out of the temperance movement which began as the number of drink outlets and the social consequences of drinking became an increasing concern.

The Coffee-house movement began to provide an alternative to booze and during the last quarter of the nineteenth century when workers lived further outside the towns, coffee houses provided a place to eat lunch and gave the working man ‘a public house where he may meet his friends, and talk and smoke and play games with all the freedom to which he has become accustomed, and where good coffee and tea –with stimulus and nourishment in them - take the place of beer and gin…the choice between sobriety and comfort on the one hand, and dissipation and wretchedness on the other.’

‘Public houses’ to sell coffee originated in Dundee in 1853, and taken up in Leicester by Dr Marriott, Canon Vaughan and Edward Shipley Ellis in 1877 with their first coffee house opening on Granby Street in 1888. There were 13 establishments in Leicester with the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa House Company becoming one of the most successful coffee house movements in the country.

Like the original company, we too opened our first coffee house on Granby Street in an old Victorian Town House (seen in the picture below in the block on the right hand side just before the tram).