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Editor’s Note: How to Curate Connection 

There is no mention of coffee in the Torah, or the Bible, or the Koran. There is no coffee in Shakespeare, Dante, or Cervantes,” so Markman Ellis reminds us in his book The Coffee-House: A Cultural History.

It’s odd to think of a time or a culture without coffee. But, as Ellis recounts, coffee ushered in much more than alertness and Internet memes. It might be responsible for a revolution in the way we communicate.

According to Ellis, a professor at Queen Mary University, coffee took a little more than 100 years to move from the Ottoman Empire to western Europe—a slow conquest. “Coffee changes people,” he writes. “Moreover, it changes the way they interact with their friends, their fellow citizens, and their community. The proliferation of coffee-house drinkers and the establishment of coffee-houses were the first signs of this change.”

Coffee ushered in much more than alertness and Internet memes. It might be responsible for a revolution in the way we communicate. 

Once in England, those coffee-houses came with startling new rules. Customers were expected to take the next available seat—“No seat could be reserved; no man might refuse your company,” Ellis writes—and they were presumed to converse amicably with their new neighbors.

Coffee-houses provided newspapers, gossip, and scandal, and naturally they evolved—becoming defined by trade and subject matter.

In one of the most striking examples, Edward Lloyd opened a coffee-house in 1688 in London’s Tower Street, near the Navy Office and the Thames. This placed his coffee-house in the epicenter of the London shipping world. There, Lloyd carefully curated essential shipping information, which was first distributed by waiters to customers before it was posted on notice boards and printed for resale globally.

“Through this system, Lloyd made sure that those merchants who stayed in the coffee room all the time had the most up-to-date information, giving them an advantage over absent competitors,” Ellis recounts. Lloyd and his coffee-house had become a brand, retaining the name of Lloyd’s through various owners. The shipping list is still published, and Lloyd’s of London still operates.

Humans are inherently social, and the tradition of gathering in purposeful groups is a tenacious trait. As we seek relevant resources and targeted information, we gravitate towards our peers in whatever venue that connection is offered—whether in coffee-houses, online, or through publications like this one.

The expertise of security professionals is on full display in this issue of Security Management. The cover story on protecting celebrities is written by Jerry Heying, CPP, the chair of the ASIS International Executive Protection Steering Committee. Other articles explore topics such as physical security at financial institutions, food insecurity worldwide, maritime risks, and the semiconductor shortage.

A glance at the activity in the virtual gathering places offered by ASIS Subject Area Communities, discussion posts, and message boards on ASIS Connects proves that while the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily curbed our in-person discussions, human connection will find a way—from the coffee-house to the curated conversation in these pages.  

Teresa Anderson