Starbucks' 18th Century Cousin Set to Serve

Just don't expect soy lattes or Internet access

By Asha Beh
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 1:16 PM EDT
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Starbucks' 18th Century Cousin Set to Serve

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Call it the resurrection of Starbucks' long-lost ancestor back from the dead.

The R. Charlton Coffeehouse, which was originally opened by wigmaker Richard Charlton 240 years ago, will hold its grand opening in Colonial Williamsburg come Friday, Nov. 20 at 4 p.m.

Just don't expect soy lattes or Internet access for your laptop. And don't bring your change either.

Ye olde coffeehouse will serve free coffee, tea and hot chocolate inspired by recipes from the 18th Century in dandy little demitasse cups.

Costumed re-enactors will also talk with visitors about how it was in the olden days, when R. Charlton's was a high-end tavern frequented by politicians, gentry and others, who came there for the latest social gossip, political discussions and the news from England. Kind-of like life at Starbucks now - er, maybe not.

Back in the day, the coffeehouse was even the site of a protest against the Stamp Act of 1765, in which England imposed taxes in the colonies on newspapers, pamphlets and legal documents.

The reconstruction was paid for by a $5 million grant from the grandson and granddaughter-in-law of the man who invented M&Ms -- Forrest and Deborah Mars of the McLean-based Mars Inc. candy empire.

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