Informative Speech: Linear Organization


Title: “The Coffee House Craze”  


Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the growing coffee house phenomenon.  

Thesis Statement: In order to understand the role of coffee houses in society today, we need to look at the history of coffee houses, the people who frequent them, and the jargon that’s unique to them.  




The Utne Reader calls it the “most popular unregulated drug in America.” In fact, 52 percent of us make this indulgence part of our daily ritual. This ritual is not only taking place just in our homes, but in chic public settings. Grandmas, students, couples, singles, and artistic Bohemians all answer to the call of “Order! One double espresso caffe mocha!” That’s right: The indulgence I’m talking about is coffee. Now more than ever we are flocking to coffee houses, where the drinks are as complex as they sound and the atmosphere is fashionable.


Even though all of us may not be avid coffee drinkers, or perhaps there are those among us who don’t like coffee at all, you will still find that coffee houses have something to offer you. Today I’d like to (1) share with you the history of coffee houses, (2) talk about the people who frequent them, and (3) provide you with some coffee house terminology.


[Transition: Let’s begin by tracing the history of coffee houses.]



I.    The History of Coffee Houses

      A.  The origin of coffee houses dates back to 17th-century Europe. The first known coffee houses were in Italy and London.

            1.   Earlier coffee houses functioned as a meeting place to exchange local and world news.

            2.   The postal service and the public used coffee houses to collect and deliver letters.

            3.   The popularity of these early coffee houses dwindled in the late 19th century as more nightclubs, hotels, and restaurants began to flourish.

      B.   The coffee shops of the 1950s sprouted a resurgence. With bright neon road signs and bold architecture, they provided a place for family dinners, after-school hangouts, and business meetings. The coffee houses of the 50s are not to be confused with the coffee houses of today.

            1.   Coffee shops of the 50s offered full service.

            2.   Coffee houses today have a limited menu, if any.

      C.  Starbucks, the Seattle-based chain, is credited with the reintroduction of coffee houses.  Coffee bars of the 90s are quaint structures that aim to sell not
            only coffee and atmosphere, but merchandise.

            1.   Many provide couches and other comfortable seating. The coffee houses of today promote lingering which, in turn, yields more consumption of coffee.

            2.   While some coffee house chains sell only beverages, others sell books, cards, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and other coffee lovers’ paraphernalia.

            3.   Some coffee houses boost their business by providing live entertainment.  Guitarists, singers, jazz ensembles, and poetry readings are part of the
                  weekly calendar.

            4.   The 1994 October issue of Consumer Reports states that less than 5 years ago, there were fewer than 200 coffee bars in the U.S. But today, there are over 5000! And by the year 2000, that number is expected to double!


[Transition: With these rising numbers, let’s take a look at the people who are making this business boom.]


II.   The People

      A.  Like the coffee houses of the 17th century and the coffee shops of the 50s, today’s coffee bars attract all kinds of people.

      B.   In Ken Ohlson’s 1993 article, “Bean Scene,” baby boomers, high school and college students, and even teens are the most likely patrons.

            1.   Teens and high school students like coffee houses because it provides them with  a savvy atmosphere. But they really like them because there is no drinking age requirement.

            2.   With hard alcohol on the decline, baby boomers and young adults have turned  to coffee drinks. And, instead of going to nightclubs to meet that special someone, many are finding that coffee houses provide a much more sobering atmosphere to interview a prospective date.


[Transition: Coffee house regulars have no problem ordering their drinks, but for many of us, ordering a specialty coffee drink can be a point of great trepidation.]


III.  Coffee House Lingo

      A.  With drinks called “latte” or “espresso,” it is enough to make us order just a plain cup of coffee and feel like a real failure. The 1994 October edition of             Consumer Reports kindly defined the three most popular variations:

            1.   First, there’s espresso: “It’s a dark roast, finely packed coffee that is brewed in a special coffee maker—in other words, it’s strong! Espresso is
      also the starting point for a lot of specialty coffee drinks.”

            2.   Cappuccino: A combination of 2 ounces of espresso blended with steamed milk and topped with frothed milk or whipped cream.

            3.   Caffe latte: A single shot of espresso to which steamed milk is added. Lattes can be flavored with Italian syrups, like almond or hazelnut.

      B.   Now for those of you who still are not tantalized with such exotic sounding drinks, coffee houses provide alternative beverages, such as hot chocolate,  fruit juices, and herbal teas.




Today we talked briefly about the history of coffee houses, their patrons, and brushed up on our coffee house lingo.

Memorable Statement:

Even though you may never order a double tall, skinny, blended latte on the rocks with a dash of hazelnut, the coffee house offers something for everyone. And, on that note . . . it’s time for a coffee break!




          A business built on beans. (1994, October). Consumer Reports, p. 642.


          Hess, A. (1986). Googie: Fifties coffee shop architecture. Vancouver, BC: Raincoast                           Books.


          Lillywhite, B. (1963). London coffee houses. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.


          Middleman-Thomas, I. (1994, March). Cafe ole. Hispanic, p. 38.


          Ohlson, K. (1993, December). Bean scene. Entrepreneur, pp. 90–93.


          Schapiro, M. (1994, November/December). Muddy waters. Utne Reader, pp. 58–65.


          Slaves to the grind. (1993, October). Rolling Stone, pp. 51–52.


          The coffee achievement. (1994, December 19–26). New York, p. 71.