While many people can’t even imagine how they’d get through the day without their caffeine fix, some religious faiths ban coffee altogether.
The Mormon church is one such religion. So why is it that Mormons don’t drink coffee? It’s a little complicated, but we have the answer!
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS)
To understand the Mormon stance on coffee, it’s important to know the context of the church’s history.
Of course, there is a lot of ground to cover, so we’re sticking to the basics to give some background before moving to the key point.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) was founded in 1830 by a man named Joseph Smith.
Smith founded the religion in western New York state and stands as the major prophet of the sect, via the Book of Mormon, originally published in the same year as the church founding, referenced earlier prophets in what would become the United States.
There are many beliefs that set the LDS church apart from other sects; some of those beliefs helped lead to religious persecution that led the members of the Mormon temple to migrate across the country until they came to Utah.
The problems weren’t all over, but gradually the LDS sect gathered followers and established its right to exist.
While Salt Lake City is the most well-known center for the religion, Utah, in general, has a large proportion of LDS believers in its population.
As a result, you’re less likely to find coffee or other caffeine-heavy drinks on the menu wherever you go in the state.
While the Book of Mormon is the most-known religious text, it isn’t alone; the LDS sect teaches its membership according to several different scriptures, at varying levels of doctrine.
One of these is the Word of Wisdom, included in the “Doctrine and Covenants,” in which Joseph Smith laid out guidelines for healthy living taken from a revelation.
This text contains some of the justification by Mormons for avoiding coffee, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, like why some of the faith also avoid sodas.
While Joseph Smith might have been the first prophet of the faith, he’s not the only one–and Mormon beliefs come into play on multiple levels regarding coffee.
Yes, Mormons Don’t Drink Coffee Or Tea
Mormonism isn’t the only religion that bans coffee; it isn’t even the only Christian sect to do so.
Several Christian faiths class coffee alongside tobacco, alcohol, and drugs and ban it from the menu because altering one’s mood or thoughts is against religious doctrines.
Some others only allow such substances on a case-by-case basis.
However, the Mormon faith takes things a little further than some other religions when it comes to beverages.
LDS followers drink neither coffee nor tea, and the Word of Wisdom suggests against consuming any hot beverages at all, under the guidance that drinks like these can harm the body.
Later clarification stated that coffee and, to a lesser degree, tea were what the revelations referred to.
Words Of Wisdom
The Word of Wisdom recommends against “wine or strong drinks,” tobacco (except in “medicinal” uses–which, of course, currently is not a factor).
The tenets expressed in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants hold various degrees of importance; for example, the same document suggests that meat only be consumed sparingly, but it’s not as policed as the prohibition against coffee.
There has been some debate in Mormon circles about what constitutes hot drinks.
Also, whether the category applies to the temperature of the beverage or some deeper nature (since alcoholic beverages are also considered harmful).
The reasoning behind the prohibition against coffee and tea has become more complex in the nearly 200 years since the doctrine’s publishing.
Why Can’t Mormons Drink Coffee?
The Word of Wisdom bans hot drinks, but there are cold versions of both coffee and tea; to get even more technical, there are versions of coffee and tea that are cold from the very beginning.
This is where Mormon believers have come up against kind of a sticking point: whether cold coffee is permissible under the original guidelines.
The question of whether cold coffee or tea are permissible runs up against a later teaching of the church.
Perhaps to rule the question out altogether, and in keeping with other aspects of Mormon doctrine, the patriarchs of the Mormon temple decreed in 1921 that adherents of Mormonism should avoid all “habit-forming” substances.
Caffeine definitely qualifies as habit-forming, given that abruptly quitting caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms.
This decision doesn’t just negate the question of whether cold coffee or iced tea is permissible; it also rules out soda and reinforces the ban on intoxicating beverages.
Herbal teas are still permissible, hot or cold; in fact, the Word of Wisdom highly recommends herbal remedies.
What Do Mormons Drink Instead Of Coffee?
Even if you agree with Mormonism on the basis of the mind-altering effects of caffeine, there are certainly times when warm drinks are helpful and soothing.
So what do Mormons drink in place of coffee and tea? There are a few different options for the faithful, as it turns out.
As mentioned before, herbal teas are still permitted under the Word of Wisdom, so infusions without tea or caffeine are a popular option for some Mormons.
Some LDS members also consider hot chocolate to be acceptable, but very firm believers reject it because chocolate can also be habit-forming since, like coffee, it contains caffeine.
Another long-time favorite coffee replacement for LDS members is a product called Postum, developed by the Post family (of cereal fame). Postum is a coffee substitute made from roasted grain (usually wheat bran) and molasses.
It’s popular with LDS adherents because the drink has no traces of caffeine and also boasts some nutritional benefits.
The brand was discontinued in 2007, but Eliza’s Quest Food purchased the brand in 2012. Starting in January 2013, the product has been available in some select grocery stores and online for fans of the warm beverage option.
Most Substances Get The Boot
Like people of many faiths, Mormons don’t drink coffee. But, with hot drinks being banned, coffee and tea both get the boot from faithful adherents of Mormonism.
Church leaders have clarified over the years the reasons for the prohibition, and canny LDS followers have found ways to fill the gap in their lives that excluding coffee brings about.
While the most hard-line LDS members won’t even go to a coffee shop, there are some indications that the avoidance of coffee and tea is starting to fall by the wayside, especially among younger adherents.
Wrapping Up: Word Of Wisdom
Unlike tobacco and marijuana and alcohol, coffee, as well as tea, are increasingly seen as potentially harmless–but church leaders insist that the coffee prohibition stands and that God has never given a revelation to retract the wisdom of avoiding coffee.
It’s from these patriarchs that the guidance to avoid coffee shops comes from, as well.
From Salt Lake City, Utah, to various places around the world, Mormons strive to live according to what they view as the word of the lord and live a healthy life based on the tenets of the Word of Wisdom.
While the number of LDS adherents who drink coffee is on the rise, there’s no sign that the patriarchs are ready to reverse their position.
In the meantime, there are several alternatives that the Mormon temple approves of, and most Mormons who adhere to the rules say they don’t miss or even have curiosity about coffee.