5 Historical (and unsuccessful) Attempts to Ban Coffee

5 Historical (and unsuccessful) Attempts to Ban CoffeeRead on about different ways people trying to ban coffee from our lives.

The Case of “Radical” Coffee

  • When: 1511
  • Where: Mecca
  • Who: The governor
  • Why: He believed it stimulated radical thinking, which in turn might unite people against him.
  • What prevented it: The sultan of Cairo, who outranked him, overruled and lifted the coffee ban.

The Case of “Evil” Coffee

  • When: The 16th century
  • Where: Italy
  • Who: Clergymen
  • Why: They believed it to be satanic (because of it’s popularity with Muslims) and pressed to ban coffee.
  • What prevented it: The pope at the time, Clement VIII, tried coffee and found it to be very delicious. It was also believed that he baptized the coffee drink feeling that it would be better for the people than alcohol. Whether true or not, coffee houses grew rapidly across Europe.

The Case of “Forbidden” Coffee

  • When: 1623
  • Where: Constantinople
  • Who: Murad IV Ghazi
  • Why: Banned coffee (as well as alcohol and tobacco) as a form of punishment. When Ghazi took absolute rule of the Ottoman Empire in 1623, he would often walk around in disguise to hear what the people were saying about him. After walking into taverns and coffeehouses where the people drank (and smoked too), he would hear unfavorable things about him and his rule.
  • What prevented it: Ghazi died very young and his successor was more lenient towards the ban. Eventually the people’s love for coffee won in the end.

The Case of “Free” Coffee

  • When: 1746
  • Where: Sweden
  • Who: King Gustav III
  • Why: Gustav felt coffee (and tea) was being misused and being drunk too much, and felt it was a threat to public health. He ordered an experiment be tested on convicted twins who were sentenced to death. After changing their sentences to life in prison, one was given 3 pots of coffee to drink every day. The other was given an equal amount of tea to drink every day. Two physicians were assigned to monitor and report their findings to the king.
  • What prevented it: Gustav III was assassinated in 1792 and the two physicians also passed away, but the coffee and tea still kept coming. The tea drinking twin lived to the age of 83. The age of the the coffee drinking twin is unknown.

The Case of “Privileged” Coffee

  • When: 1781
  • Where: Prussia
  • Who: Frederick II aka “Frederick the Great”
  • Why: Frederick felt coffee was a luxury not meant for the common people. Also, a lot of money was leaving the country from the importing of coffee. He instead tried to get the people to drink more beer than coffee by declaring that, “His Majesty was brought up on beer.”
  • What prevented it: In the end, the royal declaration didn’t catch on. The people found that coffee was a better breakfast beverage than beer.

5 Historical (and unsuccessful) Attempts to Ban Coffee