Caffe Mediterraneum, often referred to as Caffe Med or simply the Med, is a famous café located on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, near the University of California, Berkeley. The Med is an emblematic landmark of Telegraph Avenue history, "listed for years in European guidebooks as 'the gathering place for 1960s radicals who created People's Park'" it is now listed in Fodor's guidebook as "a relic of 1960s-era café culture." It is located at 2475 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, between Haste Street and Dwight Way.
Established as a coffeehouse inside a bookstore in 1956 under the name Il Piccolo by Maxine Chitarin before later being renamed, the Med is "one of the oldest coffeehouses in the Bay Area" and "the oldest coffeehouse in the East Bay."
The cafe's website maintains that "Lino Meiorin, one of the owners, was the first Italian-trained barista in the Bay Area. Customers were not used to the strong flavor of a traditional Italian cappuccino and would ask Lino for more milk. Speaking in Italian, he would tell the barista to put more latte (milk) in their cup. Finally he thought of putting a larger drink on the menu with the same amount of espresso but more steamed milk, and calling it a caffe latte."
During the 1960s, the Med featured a diverse crowd of patrons, and it became a meeting place for Beat Generation artists, intellectuals, Black Power advocates, and activists who were taking part in the Free Speech Movement and post-FSM activism. During this era, the Med also played a role in two important pieces of art. Allen Ginsberg was a regular at the Med and probably wrote Howl on the premises of the Med. Though the owner at the time initially refused access to the film crews, a scene in the 1967 film The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman was also filmed at a table in the Med, with Telegraph Avenue visible outside the window.
Of Telegraph Avenue, "many city officials and merchants say the avenue has lost its vibrancy" since the 1960s, but "until the 1990s, the Med thrived as a center for conversation and caffeine." Changes in ownership took a toll though, and at that point, employees say the Med "took a turn for the worse" as it was "bordering on a homeless shelter." However, with another change in ownership 2006, the Med is again "a destination for activists seeking social change."
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