Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511, as it was believed to stimulate radical thinking and hanging out — the governor thought it might unite his opposition. Java also got a bad rap for its use as a stimulant — some Sufi sects would pass around a bowl of coffee at funerals to stay awake during prayers. (Note to Starbucks: Time for a new size, the Funeral Bowl.)
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 banned 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.
Sweden gave coffee the ax in 1746. The government also banned "coffee paraphernalia" — with cops confiscating cups and dishes. King Gustav III 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 breakfast drinking was a good idea.
More from Mental Floss
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why you probably don't have Ebola — even if you shook hands with America's 'patient zero'
- You're reheating pizza wrong
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- 10 things you need to know today: October 1, 2014
Subscribe to the Week