Café Liberté

The Role of the Coffeehouse in the French Revolution


  • Eddy Kyle Gilpin


The Parisian café of the late eighteenth century played a vital role in the French Revolution. Numbering more than
eight hundred during the early days of the Revolution, the cafés of Paris provided a network from which information
was spread, an atmosphere ripe for debating political ideas, and the means to control the opinion of a public on the
brink of revolution; not to mention the drink that is, historically, the one most responsible for spurring rebellion:
coffee. From the firing of the first rifle at the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, until the fall of Robespierre in 1794
and be- yond, the French café was the staging area for one of western history’s most important political movements.