Thomas Twining bought Tom’s Coffee House on London’s Strand in 1706. The location of the shop was perfect as it straddled the border between Westminster and the City of London, an area that was newly populated with the aristocracy displaced by the Great Fire of London.
By this time Coffee houses were a popular feature of London life. Men – but never women – of all classes would gather there to drink, gossip and to do business. Coffee shops gathered a loyal clientele by specializing in particular products or by encouraging customers with common interests. Poets for instance would go to one establishment, army officers to another.
Competition between coffee houses was stiff. Fresh ideas and unusual promotional twists were what kept the business alive. The difference at Tom’s was tea. Despite efforts to repress tea-drinking through punitive taxes, tea became increasingly fashionable during the early part of the 18th C, especially among the upper classes, and they flocked to buy tea from Toms Coffee House. In fact, soon he was selling more dry tea than wet – we think it was probably the world’s first dry tea and coffee shop.
We’re still here and proud of our heritage site! Granted, we have a new team and some new products, and we’ve even recently redecorated, but what remains is our passion and enthusiasm for tea and coffee – as well as our front door!
We’ve been busy over the last couple of months and as well as a lick of paint [and some major structural repairs!], we’ve added a few new features. We’re very pleased with our new “Pick’n Mix”, where you can choose your own envelope tea bags for your Compartment Box.
We also have a newLoose Tea Bar, which has created a lot of interest – with our sampling dishes, you can pick up the tea, smell it, taste it, throw it on the floor if you like! And although dry tea is great, wet tea is better – so we’ve just put in a new Sampling Counter, where you can ask us for a try of a little something!
Finally, we’ve updated our small museum a little – here you can see some fascinating stuff – old teapots and caddies and some lovely old pictures of the Twining family. Do come and have a look, a warm welcome is assured.