The Devil’s Drink

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Think of the Catholic church and chances are you don’t think about your morning coffee. The church is a place for holy water and communion wine, not flat whites and lattes and a short, sharp espresso.


Wrong. Very wrong.

Let me take you back in time, around 500 years. We’re in the 16th century. Look west and you’ll see European powers exploiting the Americas discovered by Columbus a few decades earlier. Look east and you’ll see European knights and warriors fighting a crusade against Islam in the Holy Land.

Look to the Vatican and you’ll see Pope Clement VIII blessing a cup of coffee. Really? Yes, really.

Cup of coffee in Rome with view of st Peters cathedral, Italy . Hot drink in autumn time. Colored vintage style picture

Advisors to Pope Clement VIII were alarmed by its popularity and suggested that it be outlawed to save the souls of European drinkers. Legend has it that the Pope listened with concern – then announced that he wanted to try this mysterious black liquid for himself before making a final decision. A cup was brought before the Pope. He drank it, liked it – then instead of banning it, he blessed it. From this moment on, coffee was welcomed with open arms (and mouths) into Europe.

So thank you, Pope Clement VIII; the pontiff who blessed your brew.