Why Can’t Mormons Drink coffee? Is It Wicked to Ask?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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As American as apple pie, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a modern religion on the world scene.

Philips Latte Go 3200 Espresso

As American as apple pie, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a modern religion on the world scene.

You may ask, “Why can’t Mormons drink coffee with their apple pie?” And I’ll tell you: the answer is related to a Mormon belief that their religion is the original Christianity, restored with an inspired health code.

In the early 1820s, an Upstate New York youth by the name of Joseph Smith revealed his intent to re-establish the teachings of Jesus Christ on Earth.

If, like me, this is your first deep dive into LDS beliefs, you may wonder how this kid ascertained God’s specific aversion to coffee. Immediately after, you may ask if Jesus was ever spotted drinking coffee. And if he was, does this revelation imply that Jesus Christ hates coffee?

Sadly, there is no recognizable historical account of coffee makers being used in ancient Israel. Just as (forgive me) there is no ancient documentation of tiramisu or gelato being served up in the Holy Land.

Overview: What Are Mormons?

Latter-day Saints are commonly abbreviated as LDS, or referred to as the Mormon faith. The Mormon church’s stance is that the young prophet Joseph Smith received an updated gospel from Jesus Christ in 1820s America. Specifically, at age 17, Joseph Smith channelled The Book of Mormon in New York State. This ended up being an ancient account of Jesus Christ in the Americas.

This Victorian lad professed that God gave him loads of interpretations of ancient religious engravings. These engravings were upon gold plates, which Joseph found buried on the family homestead. Only the Prophet Joseph saw these golden plates before they vanished again. Central to Joseph Smith’s writings were what he described as lost doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Why Can't Mormons Drink coffee?

So why can’t Mormons drink coffee?

Well, in an appendage to The Book of Mormon called the Doctrine and Covenants, the Prophet Joseph channels God’s dietary rules, known as the “Word of Wisdom.”

Section 89 of Doctrine and Covenants admonishes Mormons against partaking of certain foods and substances. Namely, consuming alcohol, recreational tobacco and more ambiguously, “hot drinks.”

And you guessed it – those hot drinks are interpreted by the Mormon Prophet to be coffee and tea.

Why Can’t Mormons Drink Coffee?

Mormon Church members’ stance on alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs and other addictive substances is firm. Coffee beverages, alcoholic drinks, caffeinated tea, stimulants and mind-altering drugs undermine their lifestyle. After all, the focus of their lives is a spiritual journey to know Jesus Christ.

Besides, one of many reasons why coffee and tea don’t jive with Latter-day Saints is their stance on proficient reproductive practices.

As an example, Latter-day Saints frown upon caffeine when it comes to reproductive health concerns. Faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that God commands them to”multiply and replenish the Earth.”

And both doctors and Mormons agree that drinking coffee can be unhealthy for pregnant mothers.

In a similar vein, some studies show that drinking too much espresso or an excess of other caffeinated drinks decreases sperm quality. 

Is the Mormon Faith the Only Religion Prohibiting Coffee?

Religious dietary restrictions aren’t rare. Only 100 years after the LDS faith began, the Jamaican Rastafari religion started some parallel practices.

Similarities to the Mormon Church include a shared concept of Zion as the Promised Land – a spiritual utopia. In the New Testament, Zion was Jerusalem. Nowadays, the location of Zion is Ethiopia for Rastafarians and Salt Lake City for Mormons. 

Both faiths view the human body as a temple. Thus, members of these contemporary religions strive to be conscious of what they consume. Rastafarians and Mormons equally abstain from tobacco and alcohol.

Remarkably, Rastas are only to drink coffee if they have harvested and processed the beans themselves. Finally, Rastas are vegetarians, whereas the “Word of Wisdom” advises Mormons to eat meat sparingly (only in winter and during famine).

Can Mormons Drink Iced Coffee?

Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker CM401 Iced Coffee with Milk

Surely the clause about hot drinks excludes homemade iced coffee? Wrong! So why can’t Mormons drink coffee in cold brew form, since it’s a frosty beverage and not a “hot drink?”

For one: the caffeine content is comparable to that of hot coffee. I’d also wager that the original “Word of Wisdom” revelation arrived long before ice went mainstream.

Simply put, Mormons must avoid coffee altogether. Aside from this being the Mormon Church’s health code, LDS are aware of potential adverse health effects. Namely, high blood pressure, esophageal cancer and cardiovascular disease.

That said, there’s plenty of evidence to support the health benefits of coffee.

Incidentally, Mormons view the brewing of decaf coffee or iced coffee as a slippery slope leading to habit-forming substances.

Besides, as with any parent who has loads of children, God doesn’t like his boundaries tested …

Can Mormons Drink Tea?

Cascara Tee

Herbal tea and apple cider, although they be hot drinks, are fair game in the LDS faith. This comes with an advisory: to practise discretionary moderation and practical judgement.

For instance, the hot beverages must not be hot enough to erode the esophageal lining. Still, black tea and green tea are frowned upon as stimulating deterrents to spiritual well-being.

You may have heard of Mormon tea, a wild Ephedra plant used for centuries by many Native American cultures. Found growing throughout the Southwestern deserts, Mormon tea can be made into a tisane using the mild and sweet dried stems of the plant.

Interestingly, Mormon tea contains ephedrine, a mild stimulant containing alkaloids and tannins. Oh, and the name derives from the early LDS American settlers’ usage of this medicinal herb.

What About Soda Pop?

Soda is pop-ularly known in Salt Lake City LDS circles as simply “pop.” See what I did there? Carbonated, cold, caffeinated beverages are largely celebrated in LDS Zion. Soft drinks are subject to the proprietary discretion and practical common sense of individual Mormons. After all, soda pop is arguably as, or more American than apple pie!

Do Any Mormons Actually Drink Coffee?

It is worth mentioning that Mormons who admit to their clergy they are drinking coffee will endure some amount of public shaming. Transgressors are generally prohibited from partaking in the weekly communal sacrament.

This is plain to the rest of the congregation, who strive to be spiritually introspective during the sacrament. Yet, there are those who inevitably find their eyes wandering to see whom the cup passeth over.

Furthermore, Mormons who drink coffee forego the upper echelon of LDS Temple worship. To hold a temple recommend (an elite ID pass), Mormons submit to regular interviews by church authorities.

Church leaders must ensure that recommend-holders follow the “Word of Wisdom.” This is among various other codes of conduct outlined for LDS members. Having one’s temple pass revoked means losing the privilege of attending weddings, ceremonies and other elite LDS rituals.

What Can Mormons Drink Instead of Coffee?

On the Stay LDS online forum, instant beverages Pero, Postum and Inka are plugged. Here, some anonymous Mormons give one another encouraging, yet anaemic hacks for not drinking coffee.

For example, one user admits to their hankering for coffee ice cream, before it melts into a forbidden iced coffee beverage. A few more Latter-day Saints share cautionary tales of familial coffee addictions gone awry.

hot-chocolate

Ambiguously, faithful Mormons are permitted to drink hot chocolate, which contains caffeine. Contrary to assumptions, caffeinated drinks are not the central problem for Mormon Church members. Neither is sugar a point of contention.

Delightfully, I’ve learned that a proper Mormon movie night will feature buttered popcorn, an assortment of soda pop and yes, hot chocolate packets!

Plentiful are the things you will not find at a Mormon movie night. For example, illegal drugs, recreational marijuana, alcoholic beverages, iced tea, decaffeinated coffee and Red Bull are all no-nos.

Essentially, faithful Mormons abstain from these societal ills. Latter-day Saints believe these products dull the senses. To church members, unhealthy substances are antithetical to physical and spiritual health. Ultimately, the main objective is to commune with Jesus Christ by maintaining spiritual health.

Final Thoughts: Why Can’t Mormons Drink Coffee?

As with any restrictive diet, you might ask yourself: “What’s the payoff if you can’t drink coffee?” Well, the short answer is: physical and spiritual blessings, aka superpowers!

Besides, it goes without saying that no one conveys a Call to Action and its associated tiers of rewards more convincingly than the LDS via God.

So, here are God’s promises of the eternal rewards of adhering to the “Word of Wisdom:”

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones. And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.Boom!

Note to self: Let this almighty admonishment give you pause next time you are cheeky enough to pose the question, “Why can’t Mormons drink coffee?”

Hope you’ve enjoyed my bold foray into the alien territory of coffee abstinence. If you have any insights I overlooked, please comment below!

Why Can’t Mormons Drink Coffee FAQ

Faithful Mormons avoid coffee due to a clause in the “Word of Wisdom.” As God is believed to have revealed to LDS prophet Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants section 89; verse 9: “Hot drinks are not for the body or belly.”

Mormons can drink hot chocolate, herbal teas and non-alcoholic cider – as long as it’s not scalding. However, the LDS faith advises against hot drinks like caffeinated tea and requires that Mormons avoid coffee at any temperature.

Faithful Mormons can and totally do drink Diet Coke, Coke Zero and straight up Coca-Cola. It is a misconception that Mormons are prohibited from all caffeine.

Technically, drinking coffee is against the “Word of Wisdom.” While perhaps not a grave sin, drinking coffee represents a significant transgression. So, if Mormons drink coffee and they admit this to their clergy, they cannot hold a temple recommend.

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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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