Take away my morning coffee and I start to resemble Nick Nolte after his drug arrest. It is undeniably addictive. Still controversial. And oh so delicious. Coffee originated in Ethiopia in the 9th century, but it didn’t become popular in Europe until 1600. That's when the trouble started. Believing it to be "Satan's drink", Pope Clement VIII’s priests petitioned him to ban coffee, but Clement took one sip and declared, “Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious.” (1) Thereafter, Clement christened coffee as the drink of choice and Europeans fell in love with their java.
But despite the pope’s endorsement, coffee continued to have its detractors. A German scholar visited Persia in 1637 and found that the people used it as a contraceptive. He concluded that they couldn’t possibly be wrong and preached against the consumption of coffee.
By the late 17th century, coffee houses in England had become increasingly popular places for men to gather amongst fellow coffee lovers and debate the hottest issues. Now, instead of spending their time whoring about in their local tavern, men were gossiping, reading, daintily sipping and acting like…well, girls. Their wives decided to put a stop to these effeminate, caffeine-induced gatherings. In 1674, they petitioned Charles II to close coffee houses down arguing that it caused impotence. In a pamphlet titled The Women’s Petition against Coffee they presented their case against the “Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE.” King Charles II (who had never been a coffee lover) agreed and closed them down. But you know what happens when people suddenly don't get thier coffee....they get positively rabid. Soon, an outcry from the public forced Charles to reopen the coffee houses and coffee drinking continued.
By the 18th century, the coffee debate swung to the opposite end of the sexual debate. In 1771, a French doctor named Bienville preached that coffee caused nymphomania. He further argued that coffee paired with romantic novels was a recipe for hysteria. A typical scene at Starbucks would have been a breeding ground for the crazies.*
So who was right? Does coffee rev up your sex drive and ability to conceive or does it squelch a man’s fertility faster than wearing a tight pair of briefs on a long bike ride?
Scroll down for answer....
This really never gets old...
at least not for me....
a few more scrolls....
It turns out that those desperate housewives and the Persians were not as crazy as we might think. Although coffee won’t necessarily make a man love needlepoint or cry over Beaches, recent research does show that coffee, wine and nuts contain chemical called phytoestrogens which lowers male fertility and mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen. So if you are trying to conceive then I guess you might want to lay off the bean.
*Actually, come to think about it...there are a lot of crazy, homeless people at Starbucks. Why don't they go home and drink their coffee?
(1) Pendergrast p. 8
Sources and Further Reading:Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon Grounds, The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World, Jackson, TN: Basic Books, 2000.
Lee Allen, Stewart. The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee, New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2003.
The Women’s Petition against Coffee
How beer, wine, coffee and nuts can ALL 'lower a man's fertility'