Depending on the latest study results, drinking coffee these days might be considered good or bad for you. But there was no mistake about it in Istanbul during the 17th century: It could be deadly. Beginning in 1633, anyone caught drinking coffee at an Istanbul coffeehouse or anywhere else in public was subject to immediate death by order of Sultan Murad IV. The Ottoman ruler was so concerned about the societal downfall that could occur from drinking coffee with others that not only did he outlaw java, but he allegedly donned a disguise and walked about town with a huge broadsword, looking to help coffee drinkers kick the habit in the most drastic way possible. The sultan was not alone in his distaste. For several millennia, it was widely believed that congregating in coffee shops could lead citizens to conspire against the government, so political leaders did all they could to keep the pots from percolating, including Murad's murderous remedy.
Drink up some coffee facts:
- Coffee trails only oil on the list of most-traded commodities around the world.
- Counterintuitively, putting cream in your coffee immediately keeps the brew warmer for longer, in part because making coffee lighter-colored slows the loss of heat.
- Some famous people had unusual coffee habits: Beethoven counted out 60 beans before each cup, and Honoré de Balzac drank the equivalent of 50 cups a day.