Lunchtime Talk: 'Tea, Coffee and Chocolate' with Melanie King

Submitted by MuseumofOxford on November 20, 2023 - 15:48

Venue, Timing and Cost

Museum of Oxford
Wednesday, 13 December 2023
A Georgian era painting of a housemaid pouring tea and coffee for a wealthy family. The housemaid is the centre, focal point of the image, and the family surround her, sitting and standing, in a sumptuously decorated room.

'Tea, Coffee and Chocolate: How the British first fell in love with caffeine', with Melanie King.

Tea, coffee and chocolate play an important part in the modern British diet. But did you know that these beverages all arrived in London between 1650 and 1657, causing immense anxiety and public debate?

This lively talk by Melanie King explains why Europeans were at first so terrified of these drinks: pregnant mothers feared adverse effects on their babies if they drank too much chocolate, men claimed tea-drinking caused women to become peevish with their husbands, whilst women felt hard done by in the bedroom if men drank coffee. The talk will also explore some of the ingenious and surprising ways that tea, coffee and chocolate were consumed in the eighteenth century.

Complimentary tea, coffee and chocolate will be available to enjoy during the talk. Attendees are also welcome to bring lunch.

Melanie King is a writer and historian based in Oxfordshire. Her works include ‘The Secret History of English Spas’, ‘Can Onions cure Earache? Medical advice from 1769’ and ‘The Lady is a Spy: The Tangled Lives of Stan Harding & Marguerite Harrison’.

Tickets are available for £5 online and at the Museum Shop (booking fee applies online).

Sales from tickets help support our work to deliver fun and accessible family activities, community engagement projects, schools workshops, exhibitions and special events for Oxford’s people in our Museum spaces.

Further Information

Contact Details: 


Museum of Oxford
Oxford Town Hall
St Aldates
01865 252334

Museums and Heritage