I have recently been equipped with an iPhone. My friends tell me this brings me closer to becoming part of the 21st century. (I quietly admit I have resisted this for some time). So now I am connected as never before to a world both near and far that rushes at me day and night. Someone only has to sneeze and Ping! I have a briefing because I am connected to Social Media.
Of course in this time of self isolation, hearing from and connecting with family, friends, and customers, is so precious. We can reach each other by means of this wonderful new concept, like nothing before? But you know that isn’t quite true and the idea isn’t so new.
My predecessors, the Coffee-men of the 1700’s, or as they were then known: The Coffee Masters. As their title suggests, they were the proprietors of the fast growing number of coffee houses in Britain. London alone had over two thousand coffee houses by the end of the 17th century, in a much smaller area than we know today.
It was in the coffee houses that they came up with the idea of social media. News made by their customers and broadcast for society in general. Although at this time, the coffee houses were only for men, nothing quite like them had been seen before. All classes could meet on an equal footing, the humble clerk could freely mix with the great and famous of the day. They became arguably the centre of news gathering.
The Tatler and the Guardian Newspapers had published some of their most eye catching stories as a result of their entry to the coffee houses. The Coffee Masters stated that it was through their efforts that the country could enjoy the freedom of the press. They thought that they should be given the exclusive rights to news gathering and run their own newspaper: The Coffee-house Gazette.
Each establishment would be provided with a tablet and writing materials. These would be available to the gentlemen of the house who would record their news and the tablets would be rushed from the Coffee House to the local printer. The authors would have the gratification of seeing their articles published the next day. A bold and audacious plan which sadly never took off.
The coffee houses had always been worry for the establishment. It was where people would meet, discuss, and criticise including the government, and what they saw as the extravagancies of the monarchy, who had attempted to close them all down. The public and the established newspapers of the day accused the Coffee Masters of over reaching themselves and poured scorn on the idea.
But when we eventually get back to something like normality and you sit in our Coffee Room with your laptop connected to the world, think of The Coffee Masters. They would smile at what we call a new concept, but acknowledge that we too had survived through unprecedented times.
Ping! There goes my phone again. But before I answer it, I think I will have a coffee.
As I write, our online mail order business is still running and working hard to get your deliveries to you.
Please take care.