When Edward Lloyd started his coffeehouse in Tower Street in 1688, his clientele were mostly from marine based trades, merchants, sailors and ship builders. He would read out the shipping news and people would gather to do business and discuss industry related matters.

It was in this hub of enterprise that the merchants first began to form joint stock companies. Put simply, they realised that by working together they could be more profitable and reduce risk. At the time, sea-faring was particularly risky and many ships were lost. A great tragedy was the number of slaves lost at sea, which also cost the merchants dearly. So was born Lloyds of London, the first insurance company offering specialist marine insurance.

It is no coincidence that these great changes to business occurred in a coffeehouse. Once the businessmen of London stepped out of the pubs and into the coffeehouses, the capital would change forever. No longer a population soaked in gin, but all high on caffeine!

source: http://www.rombouts.co.uk/blog/?p=658