Colonial Coffee and Tea- R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse

by Jason Walker on December 21, 2009

in Uncategorized

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Our family recently spent a few days in Colonial Williamsburg, where we witnessed the history of the Christmas shopping tradition. What was more surprising was that even then, colonists had their own retreat during the holiday hubub. 😉

Enter Richard Charlton’s Coffeehouse.

The newly restored Richard Charlton Coffeehouse of Colonial Williamsburg Virginia offers a look into how the coffeehouse played a role in the exchange of ideas and the shaping of social movements. In Willaimsburg in 1765 that included an angry crowd that gathered near Charlton’s coffeehouse to protest tax.

Today, a tour of Charlton’s offers a look at its more elaborate interior design. It wasn’t every shop or tavern of that time that boasted printed wallpaper. Visitors have the chance to interact with personalities of the period who explain the daily activities of the coffeehouse.

That said, the Charlton’s has not yet reached its full potential. In its prime, coffeehouses were known for offering the exotic- coffee, tea, and chocolate. To its credit, Charlton’s offers delightful samples of hot chocolate as it was prepared at the time. The most popular method was to serve it as a hot drink, and prepared with added spices.

The real potential lies in weaving the history of tea and coffee into the location. Charlton’s is the place to tell how the East India Company rose to become the most powerful corporation in history, and how the Colonies got tangled up in its downfall. It is a place to recount how Lexington had its lesser-known version of the Boston Tea Party. As such, Charlton’s is a place to taste the impact of tea on shaping a new world.

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