Of all the illegal things in today’s world, I bet you never knew that coffee was once illegal in some places. Yep, coffee was almost completely banned from public enjoyment not once, not twice, but 5 times! Talk about coffee haters! On average, Americans drink about 3 cups of coffee per day. That’s millions and millions of cups of coffee! As a product that is also loved worldwide on a daily basis, coffee has had quite a history of being forbidden. Now who in their right, or maybe not so right, mind would even dream of such a travesty- to ban coffee? Well, I’m here to tell you who, so read on coffee enthusiasts!

The Beginning

Truth be told, not everyone was coffee crazy when it was first discovered.  Many people were actually quite suspicious or fearful of the mysteriously energy-enhancing beverage. Some even thought that it was created by Satan himself!

Mecca (1511)

As we know, coffee was first founded and used in Ethiopia. Coffee slowly, but surely, spread into other parts of the globe. Monks would utilize coffee to stay awake during long nights of prayer sessions. Once beans were traded to Yemen, the coffee plant found itself sprouting up in a place called Mecca around 1400. Mecca’s corrupt governor, Khair Beg, frowned at coffee. He feared that coffee would encourage his opposition to dethrone him for good. (Let’s be real, this is honestly a legitimate worry. I know my morning coffee always motivates me to destroy my enemies…) Thus, the court banned coffee in 1511 for its controversial stimulating effects! In 1524, an order of the Ottoman Turkish, Sultan Selim I, overturned the coffee ban and allowed for coffee to be legally consumed again!

Italy (1500s)

Once coffee seeped its way into Europe, many traders would only sell coffee beans to the very wealthy. Clergymen were fearful and intimidated by its energy-enhancing effects. These same clergymen began to look into banning coffee on the belief that it was “satanic.” Pope Clement VIII ended all coffee ban talk by giving coffee a try himself. The Pope found coffee so delightfully pleasing that he declared that it should be baptized and consumed by everyone, not just the wealthy! That’s quite the stamp of approval!

Mirad IV (1600s)

Mirad IV was the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan from 1623-1640. He was widely known for laying down the law in the harshest of manners. One of his most unpopular declarations was to ban coffee, tobacco, and alcohol in the city of Constantine. Mirad IV would dress as a commoner and seek out law breakers; once caught, he would enforce harsh punishments upon the law breakers such as execution.

Sweden (1746)

As coffee continued to take the globe by storm most reacted in a positive manner to it. Unfortunately, there were still coffee naysayers of the ruler variety. Ruler Gustav III of Sweden felt that coffee was detrimental to the body’s health. (Sorry, but when did Ruler Gustav become Doctor Gustav?) Gustav III sought to cut out all consumption of coffee and to prove its negative effects. By 1746, the royal court made both coffee and tea consumption illegal on the grounds of excessive drinking and misuse of the substances. This didn’t stop the Swedish! Coffee consumption continued as usual and Gustav used prisoners to test the effects of coffee on the body. None of Gustav’s tests proved any of his claims. The government continued to try and permanently ban coffee, but it never seemed to stick.

Prussia (1777)

From 1740-1786 Frederick the Great served as King of Prussia. Frederick believed coffee was allowing too much money to leave the country. He wanted his subjects to drink their country’s beer instead. His thought process was that he and all of his ancestors were raised drinking beer, so everyone else should too. He wanted people to drink beer with breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Beer overload! Regardless of Frederick the beer enthusiast’s efforts to ban coffee, the coffee enthusiasts continued to persist! An official ban on coffee was never made, sorry Frederick the not-so-great!

Long live coffee! Now if you’re feeling like breaking the rules, brew yourself a cup of cold brew and pretend to live the rebel life!

Happy Cold Brewing!



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