The early modern coffee-house is inextricably linked with the emergence of ‘public opinion’ as a check on the state’s authority; a critical element in liberal narratives of modernity. This talk uses an equally famous source, Samuel Pepys’s diary, to reexamine this familiar institution. It provides a systematic account of Pepys’s coffee-house practices, paying particular attention to temporal distribution, spatial patterns and social networks. Pepys directs us away from political discourse and towards his work as a naval ‘bureaucrat’. Viewed in this manner, the coffee-house is implicated in processes of state formation; the enhancement of the state’s coercive capacity, and its projection on an increasingly global scale.