Top 11 Famous Coffee Drinkers from the History Books

Pope Clement VIII

“Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious 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.” –Pope Clement VIII, papacy from 1592-1605

When coffee first made its way to Europe from Arabia, it was considered an evil “non-Christian” drink. Luckily, with Pope Clement VIII’s edict, coffee was deemed acceptable and history was changed forever. It was OK – even encouraged – that early Christians drink coffee.

Coffee quickly caught on. The first coffee houses opened in Vienna in the early 1600s, and first coffee house opened in England in 1652. (Unfortunately, women were prohibited from entering coffeehouses – other than to serve men.)

In addition to tasting good and stimulating the senses, the popularity of coffee could also be attributed to the belief that it had healing properties. In a 1699 article entitled ‘England’s Happiness Improved,’ it was observed that “Moderately drunk, coffee removes vapours from the brain occasioned by fumes of wine or other strong liquors, eases pains in the head, prevents sour belchings and provokes appetite.”

By the 1700s, coffee had become entrenched in European society, and all who could afford it and were allowed to drink it were consuming coffee.  Many brewed their own coffee, while others made frequent visits to their local coffee house. The coffee houses became popular places for the exchange of ideas. This made coffee houses particularly popular with the artists, poets, politicians, and aristocrats of the day.

Top 11 Historical Figures With Some Serious Coffee Habits:

#11 Famous Coffee Drinker – Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, drank a lot of coffee and had a strange way of preparing it. According to the biographer Joakim Garff, Kierkegaard would seize hold of the bag containing the sugar and poured sugar into the coffee cup until it was piled up above the rim. Next came the incredibly strong, black coffee, which slowly dissolved the white pyramid.” Then he gulped the whole thing down in one go.

Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard

#10 Famous Coffee Drinker – Honore de Balzac

Honore de Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day. He reportedly woke at 1 a.m. each day and wrote for seven hours. At 8 a.m. he napped for 90 minutes, then wrote again from 9:30 to 4. He is quoted as saying “As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.”

Honore de Balzac

Honore de Balzac

#9 Famous Coffee Drinker – Louis XV

Louis XV actually grew his own coffee beans in greenhouses on the Versailles Palace grounds. He handpicked the beans, roasted them, and ground them himself. He loved to serve his own coffee to guests of the Palace.

Louis XV

Louis XV

#8 Famous Coffee Drinker – Ronald Reagan

In a great quote from a more modern figure, Ronald Reagan once commented, “I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.”

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

#7 Famous Coffee Drinker – Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt allegedly drank a gallon of coffee every day. He was also credit with coining the “Good to the last drop” slogan for Maxwell House Coffee during a visit to the home of former president Andrew Jackson.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

#6 Famous Coffee Drinker – Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was a noted wine drinker; however, he called coffee his “favorite drink of the civilized world.”

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

#5 Famous Coffee Drinker – Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.”

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

#4 Famous Coffee Drinker – Voltaire

Voltaire allegedly drank between 40 and 50 cups a day, which he mixed with chocolate. He credited coffee for the inspiration (and stimulation) behind the development of his philosophies. He paid hefty bonuses to his servants who could find his favorite coffee beans.

Voltaire

Voltaire

#3 Famous Coffee Drinker – Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven supposedly drank coffee made with exactly 60 coffee beans – no more; no less. Also, he only drank coffee that he made himself.

Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven

#2 Famous Coffee Drinker – Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte asked for a spoonful of coffee while on his deathbed, and his autopsy revealed coffee grounds in his stomach. He is credit with the quote “I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

#1 Famous Coffee Drinker – Johann Sebastian Bach

Like most musical artists of the time, Johann loved his coffee. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the the Coffee Cantata, a piece that was a moral treatise on the place of coffee in daily life.

The protagonists of the cantata were a father and his coffee-addicted daughter. The father demands that the daughter give up her coffee habit so that she can get married. She seemingly agrees to do so, but she later decides that she will instead find another coffee addict who will agree to marry her. The cantata ends happily with the father, daughter and narrator all coming together to sing a song expounding on the benefits of coffee drinking.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

All photos licensed by wikimediacommons.org

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