Postmedia Trudeau’s not alone: The history of coffee reveals many haters

In a scathing interview with the Huffington Post on Thursday, Justin Trudeau made a startling and shocking admission that could be seen as unlawful in the eyes of many Canadians.

He doesn’t drink coffee.

He later joked about it in order to take a handle on the situation, regretting his transparency on such a hot, steaming subject. Card-carrying Tim Hortons loyalists were left with a bitter, yet slightly floral, taste in their mouths.

History is filled to the brim with coffee-haters, and the Liberal leader’s recent revelations put him in the company of some bad grounds.

The earliest person to not appreciate coffee’s amazing qualities was Khair-Beg, an early sixteenth-century governor of Mecca who saw people gambling and engaging in sexual activities in the coffeehouses. He compared the effects of caffeine to those caused by wine and decided coffee must be outlawed. In 1511, the coffee shops were shut down.

By the 1600s, the drink made its way to the Christian world. Pope Clement VIII loved his cup of joe, but hated its Muslim association.

“This Satan’s drink is so delicious,” he pontificated, “that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it and making it a truly Christian beverage.”

The holy brew exploded in popularity.

The most notable anti-caffeinists were a group of women who in 1674 wrote the Women’s Petition Against Coffee, a six page pamphlet (well worth reading in its entirety) urging the men of England to stop drinking the product.

“(Why do our men) trifle away their time, scald the Chops, and spend their Money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty bitter stinking, nauseous Puddle water?” they asked.

Evidently they had never tried a Starbucks soy hazelnut latte with extra foam.

They accused the men of spending all their time away from the home. Coffee allowed men to sober up more quickly than ever before, meaning they would leave the taverns in the morning for the coffeehouses, then when they could walk again, they’d head back to the taverns to start the process all over again. The men fired back, publishing a barrage of sexist anti-female accusations in The Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee.

“Could it be Imagined,” it started off, “that ungrateful Women, after so much laborious Drudgery, both by Day and Night, and the best of our Blood and Spirits spent in your Service, you should thus publickly Complain?” Well, you get the idea.

King Charles II was another anti-coffee tyrant who, in 1675, issued A Proclamation for the Suppression of Coffee Houses, banning all coffee shops. He was taken aback by the uproar his proposed ban caused and, quite familiar with the history of his predecessor and executed father, he backed down rather than risk a violent overthrow of the monarchy.

Modern day examples of anti-coffee crusaders include so-called “scientists” who claim that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can lead to early death. Cherry-picking data is more fun, so you’d be better off listening to the pro-joe arguments instead. (Coffee can make you smarter and ward off Alzheimer’s? Sign me up!)

With 65 per cent of Canadians drinking coffee every single day, it’s in Justin Trudeau’s best political interest to renounce his no-caffeine policy and hold a photo-op at the nearest Second Cup as soon as possible, lest he wants the public to keep roasting him on this issue.

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