Did you know… coffee originally came to Europe through Venice?
During the 17th century, Venetian merchants took this powder back with them from Istanbul and brought it back to the city, with much excitement. Unsure what to make of the strange concoction, it was at first sold as a medicinal elixir, used to cure everything from ‘head maladies’ to smallpox. Soon however, it was marketed as an ‘exotic’ new beverage and the merchants began selling it exclusively to wealthy citizens. Coffee became a much prized commodity among the upper class but as its popularity grew, word spread about its stimulating effect.
Suspicions about the new drink began to arise. The Venetian clergy condemned it as ‘the bitter drink of Satan’ but when Pope Clement VIII tasted it, he had a different opinion. He declared; “this devil’s drink is so delicious, we should cheat the devil by baptising it”. Allegedly he even baptised some coffee beans! Whether this is fact or exaggeration, coffee was officially legitimised for Catholics around the world.
The drink spread rapidly throughout Italy and Europe as a result. It became a particularly popular breakfast drink and people soon found starting their day with caffeine rather than alcohol made them a whole lot more alert, and productive and so the fuel of the modern workplace was born!