Coffee Culture : Coffee as Sacrament

Coffee has a long history as spiritual substance. Frederick Wellman, in Coffee: Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization, describes an African blood-brother ceremony in which "blood of the two pledging parties is mixed and put between the twin seeds of a coffee fruit and the whole swallowed."

Coffee in its modern form, as a hot, black beverage, was first used as a medicine, next as an aid to prayer and meditation by Arabian monastics, much as green tea is used by Zen monks in Japan to celebrate and fortify. Pilgrims to Mecca carried coffee all over the Moslem world. It became secularized, but the religious association remained. Some Christians at first were wont to brand coffee as "that blacke bitter invention of Satan," as opposed to good Christian wine, but in the sixteenth century Pope Clement VIII is said to have sampled coffee and given it his official blessing.