Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world, second only to water, enjoyed by millions every day. The drink was not always so ubiquitous, only becoming popular relatively recently during the 16th century. If you can’t start the day without first having your morning cup of coffee, then you should probably thank Pope Clement VIII.
Coffee was first introduced around the 9th century when Muslim shepherds noticed wild coffee beans were having a stimulant effect on their flocks of sheep. Clerics learned the techniques to cultivate the beans, and the drink quickly spread throughout the Muslim world.
When it inevitably found its way to Europe, the majority of Catholics treated it with a great deal of suspicion because it was the popular beverage of Islam, which Catholicism had been at war with for centuries. Because of its reputation, it gained the moniker “Satan’s drink.”
As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome, and coffee was first brought to Pope Clement VIII around the year 1600.
Initially, the pope’s closest advisers tried to get him to ban the drink, proclaiming it was “the bitter invention of Satan.” However, the pope wished to try it himself before issuing a papal decision.
After tasting it, the pope enjoyed it so much he declared that “This Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it!”
Allegedly, he formally blessed the coffee bean because the drink was deemed less harmful than alcohol. After his blessing, it quickly spread throughout the rest of Europe and eventually the world, becoming a chief crop and the most popular beverage. Next time you enjoy your favorite brew, thank God for Pope Clement VIII.