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Death by Coffee, a True Story

Posted Thursday, September 11, 2014
Humans have been quite creative over the millennia in finding new methods of capital punishment, but perhaps the most unusual method ever tried was death by coffee.

When coffee began arriving in Europe from the Muslim world, some church leaders declared it to be the Devil's Drink and sought to have it banned. Unfortunately for them, Pope Clement VIII decided to sample the beverage and decided that he liked it. His infallible conclusion? "This devil's drink is so delicious we should cheat the devil by baptizing it."

By the mid 1700's, with coffee drinking rising to ever-higher levels of popularity, a debate raged about whether coffee was healthy or dangerous. Sweden's King Gustav III was absolutely convinced that coffee was dangerous and set out to prove it.

A pair of identical twins were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. To prove his theory, King Gustav sentenced one of the pair to drink three pots of coffee every day, and the other to drink the equivalent amount of tea. In what has jokingly been named Sweden's first-ever "clinical trial," King Gustav appointed two of his court physicians to monitor the twins and report their findings.

The first to die was one of the doctors assigned to monitor the study. The next was the other doctor. Third was King Gustav himself, who was assassinated at a masked ball in 1792.

Finally, many years later, one of the twins died. At the age of 83. And it was the tea drinker.

Tags: quirky, food and drink, Sweden

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Kristy Lin Billuni | 9/12/14, 6:00 pm
And so the great debate between tea and coffee began, and it does indeed play out in my cafe reviews. I'm honored to have stirred up something so nicely written. Thanks for the shout out.
mocki | 5/31/15, 1:23 am
What a story! Just for safety, I drink both.
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