Is Coffee Illegal Anywhere? – Allow Us To Surprise You!

While enjoying my delicious cup of coffee, a sudden thought struck me. Since coffee comes with a lot of caffeine content, is it illegal anywhere in the world? Considering how often we drink coffee, you might think that’s not a possibility. But coffee has been banned in the past. Yeah, let’s dive in.

Is coffee illegal anywhere? Coffee is not illegal to drink in any country right now. But, in the past, there have been numerous bans on coffee in several countries like Italy, Sweden, Prussia, Mecca, and Turkey. In most cases, the ban was a result of political and social events and not because of the nature of coffee or the caffeine within. Considering the copious amounts of coffee we drink every day, this can come as a surprise to many people.

Historic Challenges For Coffee

Let’s take a look at some of the famous coffee bans that have taken place in history. 


Yemen and coffee go back in time.

Though Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, they didn’t figure out the beverage. Yep, the Ethiopians made a snack bar out of coffee beans that gave them instant energy. Weird use of a coffee bean, but ok.

The Sufi monks from Yemen were the first ones to come up with the idea of coffee making. They made the process of roasting and brewing that is very similar to what we do today.

When they discovered that coffee had a lot of demand, they wanted to monopolize coffee as a beverage. The merchants made sure that no seeds or plants left the country.

Though this is not a ban of any sort, it still played a part in how coffee was consumed in other parts of the world. 

The situation changed when Pieter van der Broecke, a merchant for the Dutch East India Company, took some coffee plants with him when he left the country. These plants were then used in Java which then became the home of coffee for quite a long time.

Also Read: Is Chai Latte Coffee?


Coffee was banned in Mecca in the year 1511 CE.

The governor thought that coffee had the same intoxicating effects on the human mind as that of alcoholic drinks. 

He also assumed that coffee will foster radical thinking which could lead to more opposition to his rule. This was mainly because people from all sectors would sit and enjoy their coffees in a local coffee house.

Since a lot of people came together, it was assumed that they are plotting against the present rule. Hence the ban.

But the ban didn’t last for more than a few months.

The people of Mecca were in love with coffee and were not ready to give up. Higher authorities reverted the move to ban coffee and made coffee free (not moneywise) to drink for all.


The members of the Catholic church in Italy wanted to label Coffee as Satanic and ban it in the 16th century.


The reason for this reaction is purely political.

Coffee reached Italy from the middle east in the 16th century. Italy had a good concentration of the Catholic church’s power and for them, anything from the middle east was not to be trusted.

The fact that coffee gave you energy did not go well with their beliefs. The clergymen believed that the mind-altering ability of coffee shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be labeled Satanic.

Things took a turn when the Pope (Pope Clement VIII) had his first cup of coffee. He found coffee to be delicious and loved every bit of it. After that, he baptized the drink(?) which made the Church accept coffee and later the country.

Thanks to Pope’s blessing, coffee found its place in Italy and later went on to become a thing in the rest of Europe.

Also Read: Can Coffee Make Your A Genius?

Ottoman Empire

Murad IV, the Ottoman Sultan in 1633, banned coffee in his empire.


Coffee, back then, was believed to be a narcotic as it came with mind-altering effects. Murad IV believed the consumption of coffee can lead people to have dangerous thoughts.

And for a Sultan, what can be more dangerous than a plot for overthrowing him. When that doubt crept in, he blamed coffee and banned it once and for all.

Coffee did break most social norms in the Ottoman Empire. People would gather in a coffee shop and enjoy the beverage ignoring all the social norms present. This did upset the Sultan and you know what happened next.


Coffee was banned in Sweden 5 times between 1756 and 1817.

It all started with Frederick I imposed heavy import taxes on coffee and tea. If you failed to pay your taxes, your coffee-related cups and pots were seized.

The consumption of coffee was banned later the same year. But that led to the development of black markets where business was pretty good. The penalty for drinking coffee was also increasing over time but that didn’t help.

King Gustav III hated coffee. He ruled Sweden from 1771 to 1792 and to prove that coffee is bad for you, he made convicts drink coffee and made a note of how long it took to kill them.

Before he could find the answer to this experiment, King Gustav III was killed. 

A punishment like this would have kept the convicts on their feet while the doctors monitoring their actions would have dozed off quite often. Gotta feel bad for those doctors.


In 1777, Prussia’s King, Frederick the Great talked down coffee and asked his people to drink more beer.


Coffee had to be imported and Frederick was worried that money was leaving his country. This is why high import taxes were charged on coffee imports.

At some point, to reduce coffee business in the country, the King made sure that all coffee roasters should obtain an operating license from the King. When all roasters applied, except a few who were cozy with the King, almost all license applications were rejected.

This anti-coffee policy only increased contraband activities in the country and didn’t stop at any cost.

After the death of the King in 1786, the restrictions were removed. 


Can you believe that coffee was banned in England?

In 1675, Charles II banned all coffee houses.

The reason for this ban for purely political. Coffee houses were the main source of discussions and anyone can talk with anyone discussing subjects like politics, science, and religion. 

Naturally, Charles II was not a fan of this.

Recent Bans on Coffee


In 2019, Singapore banned the sale of S Gold Coffee.

S Gold Coffee is a slimming product that was banned for the use of a banned substance called Sibutramine. This substance has been banned in Singapore since 2010.

Though this is not a ban on the coffee itself, when things go wrong with a particular coffee beverage, the Singapore government didn’t hold back. 

In this case, this ban did more good as the side effects of this coffee included insomnia, heart palpitations, and headaches. 

New York City

In 2013, New York City put a short ban on sugary drinks.

Though this is not a direct ban on coffee, it did complicate things a little. bit. 

Coffee beverages that are 16 ounces and less remain unaffected. But if you’re selling larger sizes, then you can’t add more than 3 to 5 packets of sugar to your drinks. 3 packets for 16 ounces and 5 packets for the biggest offering the store has.

If you’re buying a large cup of coffee, then you might have to add your own sugar as the stores were limited in how much sugar they can add.

Why was this ban done?

The New York City officials felt that people are consuming way too much sugar in the form of drinks and that is leading to an alarming rate of obesity. People were extremely unhappy with this ban as one could imagine.

Final Thoughts

Coffee is a great beverage. It is delicious and gives us all the energy we need. Comparing coffee with soft drugs isn’t acceptable. The coffee culture today is so diverse that there is no one coffee ruling others.

Most bans in the past have been motivated by social and political reasons. As energy drinks and stimulants, coffee does a wonderful job and there is no need for any country to bring down the ban hammer on coffee drinking.

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