How unusual was it for a British naval officer to drink coffee in the Napoleonic Wars?

So, I was thinking about how in the Horatio Hornblower books, Hornblower likes to drink coffee. So just a quick question: around the turn of the 19th century, during the Wars of French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, would that be considered an unusual drink choice for a British naval officer? If not, how about for English people in general?

I mostly ask because the stereotype here in America is that the British love their tea (they drink it hot even, for some weird reason:D), and I’m curious if Hornblower drinking coffee would be a not remarkable thing at all, or if it might have just been to help American audiences identify with him? (Come to think of it, did Americans drink coffee more than tea back when the Hornblower books were published?)

coffeehouses were extremely common in England in the 17th and 18th centuries, but gradually declined towards the end of the 18th century. I wouldn’t think it would be uncommon for an English officer to drink coffee during the beginning of the 19th century.

In the 1930s through the 60s? Most definitely. Coffee started getting popular in America just before the Revolution, where it was seen as a “patriotic” alternative to tea (and during the Revolution, when the British, for some reason, stopped selling tea to America). It really took off here in the 19th century, and by the middle of the 19th century, everybody was drinking coffee, and in 1937, when the first Hornblower novel came out, you’d probably be looked at funny if you didn’t have coffee at breakfast or after dinner.

By the 1800’s sugar, coffee, tea and tobacco were the big ticket import items into the UK.

But over 90% of the coffee was re-exported due to differential tarrifs that imposed high import duties on domestic coffee consumption favouring the tea interests. The British preference for tea over coffee had it’s origins in fiscal policy.

So the answer might be “Bit of column A, bit of column B”? It wouldn’t considered very noteworthy that Captain Hornblower drank coffee instead of tea, and it might have been a characterization choice to better suit the market? (Granted, if it’s not unusual for him to be drinking coffee even without the American audience, the other half of my thought is pure fanwank).

Cool beans (heh), thanks.

FWIW, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin strongly prefer coffee to tea, and seemingly drink it whenever they can get it, afloat and ashore.

Jack: “This coffee has a damned odd taste.”
Stephen: “I attribute that to the excrement of rats, Brother.”
Jack: “I thought it was familiar.”

Just read that passage yesterday!!
I’m reading the series for the 5th time.:dubious: