For coffee lovers out there, one cannot imagine starting your day without coffee.
However, do you know that coffee was once banned by the Catholic Church as well as the Ottoman Empire?
Pope Clement VIII and his first cup of ‘Satan’s drink’
It is believed that coffee arrived in Italy in the second half of the 16th century through the commercial routes of the Mediterranean Sea.
When it was first introduced to the Vatican, a number of Catholic Church clergy strongly believed that the drink would do nothing but corrupt the congregation.
Some called the beverage Satan’s drink or the bitter invention of Satan.
The reason behind this opposition against coffee was mainly because the beans were brought over by Muslim merchants with whom Christians had been at war for centuries.
The priests then pressured the then Pope Clement VIII to officially denounce the drink.
However, after tasting coffee, the pope was rumoured to have said, “Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.”
With that, Pope Clement continued to bless coffee beans, declaring that Catholics around the world can drink coffee freely.
Drinking coffee was punishable by death during the Ottoman Empire
Christianity was not the only religion that had a problem with coffee.
Due to its stimulating effect, coffee was forbidden in Mecca in 1511. Then, the ban was overturned when a fatwa was issued allowing the consumption of coffee in 1524.
Fast forward to 1633, the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Murad IV decided to execute those who were seen drinking coffee in Istanbul.
Actually, he was not against coffee per se. The sultan nevertheless, believed that coffeehouses in Istanbul were the place where seditious plots started.
The leader of the Ottoman Empire even took his hatred for coffee drinking a little step further.
Murad would disguise himself as a commoner and roam the streets of Istanbul with his broadsword.
The moment he came across a coffee drinker, the sultan swung his sword to decapitate him while the poor man was enjoying his drink.
When King Charles II tries to outlaw coffee
If you think Murad IV was absurd and ridiculous for banning coffee just because he did not want his subjects to ‘gossip’ about him at the coffeehouse, he was not alone.
In England, King Charles II attempted to shut down all coffeehouses in 1675.
He claimed that coffee houses “have produced very evil and dangerous effects” as well as “disturbance of the peace and quiet realm”.
The truth is that the king traced some seditious poetry written about him to coffeehouses.
Charles later learned however, that it was best to leave coffee drinkers alone with their favourite drink.
It took only 11 days for Charles to reverse his ban because the backlash was simply throne-shaking.
Today, can we take a moment and be grateful that we can drink our coffee without losing our heads?