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Coffee History - The Swedish Coffee Ban

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Coffee is a drink that many of us consume on a daily basis, but it has not always been considered appropriate. It's almost unfathomable that coffee could ever be thought of as a controlled substance, but this has actually happened before in coffee history. In fact, there are a surprising number of instances in history where governments tried to ban coffee. According to an article on Mental Floss, one such attempt was made in Sweden in 1746. During this event, not only was a ban placed on coffee, but "coffee paraphernalia" was also prohibited. This meant that police officers had the right to confiscate coffee related dishes. 

What might have brought about such an absurd law? An article in The Pittsburgh Press sheds some light on the reasons behind this strange incident. Apparently, Swedish officials were concerned that the culture of coffeehouses was ideal for people to gather together and plot rebellion against the government. Here we observe a recurring theme throughout history, where government officials fear their own citizens and resort to oppression.  

As with most oppressive laws, this Swedish ban on coffee was ultimately a failure. The Pittsburgh Press went on to report that, unsurprisingly, citizens ignored the ban and kept smuggling coffee beans anyway. The Swedish government eventually abandoned the whole pointless attempt to ban coffee. What lessons can we draw from this event? In addition to the obvious fact that people can't go without their coffee, we also learn that in the battle between an oppressive government and ordinary citizens, the citizens still have power!

If you would like to learn more about what we do at Green Dragon Roasters, please feel free to contact us!


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