While the exact origin of International Coffee Day is unknown, many countries around the world participate in the event. International Coffee Day was promoted in Japan by The All Japan Coffee Association, and first celebrated in 1983. Now, there is a lot interesting history behind coffee, so this post won’t cover it all, but here is a short story about a Pope & coffee.
According to the legends, priests in Italy wanted Pope Clement VIII to ban coffee. They claimed that Catholicism had the sweetness of wine in the Eucharist but Satan had given the infidels a black bitter drink. Coffee was even rumored to be the anti-thesis of the wine in the Eucharist. However upon trying coffee for himself, the Pontiff proclaimed, “Why, 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.”
Clement VIII’s fondness for coffee, made him unwilling to ban it, so he instead gave it his blessing by “baptizing” it in the year 1600 (legend holds). That action removed the biggest potential obstacle for the popularization of coffee in Europe. Less than 50 years later, coffee houses began popping up in Italy and by 1675, there were some 3,000 coffee houses in England. By that time, coffee drinking was also quite popular in France where coffee houses soon became the meeting places for like minded individuals to discuss new (often revolutionary) ideas. Indeed, the French Revolution was perhaps as much the product of the simple coffee bean than it was anything else.
However, despite good and bad things coming from the meeting over coffee, today is the day that we should celebrate this “baptizing” of coffee. Go out and buy your parish priest a nicely brewed cup (not from Starbucks: why) sit back with him and enjoy. In addition, rest comfortably that even Pope Francis may be celebrating today as just three days ago, at the audience between himself and the board of directors of Venezuela’s Episcopal Conference, one of the Bishop’s gave the Pope the gift of Venezuelan Coffee saying,”This is so you can make your coffee each afternoon.” And the Pope’s response, “You know I like coffee.”
Drink up everyone, and may God baptize your coffee.