Everyone loves a good cup of coffee right? Well actually that's not historically true. I don't just mean taste preferences either. Some people have had such a hate on for coffee that they've even tried to have it banned. That's a pretty big grudge. There have actually been at least 5 times in history that a Big Wig in charge of a country has tried to banned coffee.
First, a bit of coffee history.
The coffee plant was discovered in Ethiopia around the 11th century. Locals believed the plant had magical properties (and really they weren't wrong) and would boil the leaves in water, drinking the result.
It didn't take long for stories of the "magic plant" to spread to other regions, and soon people came to Ethiopia to get a taste for themselves. That's how coffee got to the Middle East about 300 years later.
Banned In Mecca
The first known attempt from a governing official to ban coffee happened way back in 1511. The governor of Mecca, a giant city for the time, outlawed the drink. He claimed it stimulated radical thinking and was worried it would unite his enemies against him. It was believed at the time to be as intoxication as wine, so he had some backing from hard-line Muslims.
In the end coffee united his enemies just like he thought, but not in the way he was worried about. Public outcry over the ban united opposition and weeks later the Sultan of Cairo overruled the ban.
Coffee was saved! At least for another 100 years or so.
More Ban News on the next page!
Coffee's Great Escape
In the mid 1500s, when coffee basically belonged solely to the country of Yemen, a new way to drink the plant was developed. The beans were roasted over a fire, ground up, and then cooked in water. This is pretty close to how we drink coffee today.
Yemen fiercely guarded their coffee secrets, but in the 1600s a Dutch merchant violated centuries-old rules and stole coffee seeds out of the country. Within 40 years the drink was popular all over the world.
Italians love their wine, and we don't hear too much about Italian coffees, well there might be a reason for that. In the 16th century, clergymen of the Catholic church tried to have coffee banned and labeled Satanic. Any beverage that can do what coffee can do is probably the Devil's work, or so their line of thinking went.
They took the issue all the way to Pope Clement VIII who took one sip of the delicious drink and joked that it should be baptized.
With the Pope's blessing coffee gained even more popularity in Europe. Coffee-brewed in Holy Water? It could have been a thing.
How far would you go for a cup of coffee? In 1623 Murad the fourth took over the Ottoman Throne, and that meant he came into a lot of power. One of the first things the young emperor did was restrict the consumption of coffee.
His penalties were notoriously harsh including a beating for a first offense and drowning in a leather sack for repeat coffee drinkers.
The Madness continues on the next page!
How Swede It Is
Sweden is normally a pretty level-headed country right? Well not in all things. In fact when it comes to coffee they kind of lost their heads.
In 1746 the Swedish government starting confiscating "coffee paraphernalia" and King Gustav the third started using convicted murderers as lab rats. He wanted to know how much coffee it would take to kill a person, so doctors started force-feeding the drink to the worst of the country's criminals.
(Fun Fact: it would take about 70 cups of coffee to kill an average-sized person. Sweden was not successful in executing a man with coffee.)
From Prussia With Love
Most of us love coffee, but there's another drink that holds many of our hearts too. Maybe because of that we can excuse Frederick the Great for what he did to coffee. In 1777 the leader of the eastern European country tried to ban coffee because it "interfered with the beer consumption" of the nation.
In a royal statement it was decried "His Majesty was brought up on beer," and tried to explain why beer was superior to coffee. The idea never caught on and Frederick eventually gave up his crusade against coffee.
So there you have some facts about coffee you probably never knew, and definitely never will need to know.