P Pat Cotter

Coffee History: The Great Italian Coffee Ban

Aug 7, 2018 · coffee · culture · history · italy
Coffee History: The Great Italian Coffee Ban

If you've been following our coffee history series you know that coffee has had a long and storied history. From its discovery and popularization in the Middle East to it's place in kitchens around the world today, times haven't always been easy for coffee drinkers. This week we're taking a look at one of those harder times to get a cup of Joe!

The Great Italian Coffee Ban

When coffee reached Italy in the 16th Century it received a frosty reception. When you consider the politics of the region at the time, it's not hard to see why. Italy was the seat of the Catholic Church's power, and the church had extensive power throughout Europe. Because coffee originated in the Middle East, many god fearing Italians took pause at it's arrival. While time had passed since the era of the crusades, many Catholics still did not trust goods emerging from the Middle East. This was especially prevalent among clergymen. Add to this the fact that coffee had an energizing effect, and the puritanical church of the time panicked at the spread of the beverage. This fear of "mind altering" effects was common among all major religions during medieval and Renaissance Europe. It's the same mindset that led to coffee's initial struggles at being accepted in Mecca shortly after its discovery. When its place of origin and effects were combined, members of the Catholic church demanded that the beverage be labelled as Satanic. While this fear and uncertainty around coffee did result in a countrywide ban, all was not lost. Pope Clement VIII, it turned out, was a big fan! Upon tasting coffee, the pope remarked that it was a tasty beverage, and deserved to be baptized. Thanks to this blessing, coffee quickly took root in Italy. The rest of Europe soon followed, and coffee became an international favorite! Thanks for reading! Remember to make coffee you love!

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