A video tour of 1950’s London’s swingin’ coffee bars

Contrary to popular belief, tea is not the only popular beverage served in London. In fact, ever since the first Italian espresso machine crash landed in England in 1952, London has had a swinging coffee culture. Now thanks to the vintage documentary reel above, you can take your own tour back in time to the beginnings of London’s fledgling coffee shop scene.

Hit play and enter a time when coffee was the king of cool, inside a smoky, bohemian coffee bar, packed to the rafters with young Londoners gleefully puffing on cigarettes as a lively soundtrack of jazz wafts above them. It’s as much a tour of the city’s coffee bars as it is an intriguing artifact of a London that has moved on to trendier pursuits and hangouts. This morning, go grab yourself another cup off the pot and settle in for an intriguing cross-section of life in 1950’s London.

Caffeinated in Seattle

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest! Man, is this a beautiful piece of the planet or what. On that perfect sunny day in Seattle–like today–you’d be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque city (sorry, Prague).

Although I lived here a few years ago, I forgot how many coffee shops there are! Literally one on every block and they keep multiplying. And it’s not just Starbucks, although the original location (picture) in the Pike Place Market still attracts tourists.

I remember walking to work in that “morning march of the claws” (MMC) every day. MMC are all the people bundled up in Columbia Sportswear rain gear, marching to work with their right arm extended, their hand (mutated into a cup-holding claw) tightly gripping a cup of java. Their expression suggested: “Don’t talk to me before I have a chance to caffeinate.”

Everyone here seems to have a favorite coffee place, too. While favorite places used to be chains, such as Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Tully’s, Peet’s…, now people seem to appreciate and cherish their independent coffee shops, as the latest Best of Citysearch survey indicates. When I lived here, my favorite local place used to be Uptown Coffee. Although they now have a few locations now, they still make possibly the best cappuccino foam West of Italy.