When Coffee Was Feared
From today’s perspective, it appears silly that anyone would ever fear coffee. Yet, the historical record shows that coffee was once a controversial drink.
From writer and comedian Emmy Blotnick: “Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511, as it was believed to stimulate radical thinking and hanging out — the governor thought it might unite his opposition. Java also got a bad rap for its use as a stimulant — some Sufi sects would pass around a bowl of coffee at funerals to stay awake during prayers.”
Nowadays, coffee is heavily used in churches so that people will stay awake during sermons.
From Stephanie Weber at History Hustle: “In the 1600s coffee was wildly popular in the Ottoman Empire – so much so that Sultan Murad IV wanted to make the beverage illegal by decapitating anyone caught drinking coffee. Coffee is so addicting that even the threat of chopping off heads didn’t change coffee-drinkers’ habits.”
One might wonder if the Sultan was related to the Red Queen.
From the National Coffee Association of U.S.A., Inc.: “European travelers to the Near East brought back stories of an unusual dark black beverage. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent.”
From Luke T. Harrington at Christ and Pop Culture:
“Even at times when the Muslim world was okay with it, though, Christian Europe was highly suspicious of coffee. After all, if those heathen Muslims were drinking it, it must have been the devil’s drink. This was unfortunate, since there were significant arguments for adopting coffee: in an era where clean drinking water was scarce, your choice of beverage was usually limited to boiled, highly acidic stuff, like coffee, or—y’know—alcohol. Turns out Europe was totally fine with just being sloshed all the time (because, I mean, who isn’t?), as long as it didn’t mean drinking liquid heresy. This contempt for pumpkin spice lattes and their ilk continued for much longer than you might think: into the seventeenth century.”
From National Public Radio: “Perhaps the bawdiest argument against coffee was The Womens [sic] Petition Against Coffee, published in England in 1674. Brimming with innuendos that would make Shakespeare blush, the six-page manifesto blamed coffee for every type of impotence.”
From The Week: “Sweden gave coffee the ax in 1746. The government also banned ‘coffee paraphernalia’ — with cops confiscating cups and dishes. King Gustav III even ordered convicted murderers to drink coffee while doctors monitored how long the cups of joe took to kill them, which was great for convicts and boring for the doctors.”
From Historic UK: “The first coffeehouse in England was opened in Oxford in 1652. In London, the first one was opened later that same year in at St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, by an eccentric Greek named Pasqua Roseé. Soon they were commonplace. . . Anyone of any social class could frequent the coffeehouses, and so they became associated with equality and republicanism. So much so that in 1675 an attempt to ban them was made by Charles II, which caused such a public outcry that it was withdrawn.”
Thankfully, it is perfectly legal these days for one to be a coffee addict.
How can you tell if you are a coffee addict? Here are some signs:
Your favorite DVD contains every Folgers commercial ever made.
Your blood type has changed from O Positive to Dark Roast.
You buy coffee by the semi load.
You have your coffee maker insured by Lloyd’s of London.
You have Juan Valdez on speed dial.
Your favorite food is Arabica beans.
You once tried to add cream and sugar to Java software.
You actually enjoy getting a coffee enema.
You named your children Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte.
When asked how you take your coffee, you reply, “Intravenously.”
Featured Image by Mark Sweep.
Featured Image in Public Domain.