For the coffee lovers around the globe just the mention of the word “ban” when it comes to their beloved coffee beverage could cause outrage and upheaval. History shows that it has been attempted, although unsuccessfully to date (thank goodness!).
Banned in Mecca in 1511, coffee was believed to stimulate radical thinking and unnecessary hanging out. The governor thought it might unite his opposition. Java also got a bad rap for its use as a stimulant, and some Sufi sects would pass around a bowl of coffee at funerals to stay awake during prayers.
When coffee arrived in Europe in the 16th century, clergymen pressed for it to be banned and labeled Satanic. But Pope Clement VIII took a taste, declared it delicious, and even quipped that it should be baptized. On the strength of this papal blessing, coffeehouses rapidly sprang up throughout Europe.
After Murad IV claimed the Ottoman throne in 1623, he quickly forbade coffee and set up a system of reasonable penalties. The punishment for a first offense was a beating. Anyone caught with coffee a second time was sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the waters of the Bosporus. We think that one is rather severe don’t you?
Sweden gave coffee the ax in 1746. The government also banned “coffee paraphernalia”, with police confiscating cups and dishes. King Gustav III hated coffee so much he 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.
In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia issued a manifesto claiming beer’s superiority over coffee. He argued that coffee interfered with the country’s beer consumption, apparently hoping a royal statement would make Prussians eager for an eye-opening brew each morning. Frederick’s statement proclaimed, “His Majesty was brought up on beer,” explaining why he thought drinking beer at breakfast was a good idea.