Do you know someone who is Mormon, and they don’t drink coffee?
You want to ask them why they don’t, but the fear of getting too personal stops you.
Religions have different doctrines and principles which are followed. These doctrines vary between religions, and what may seem harmless to one religion is deemed off-limits by another.
So, why can’t Mormons drink coffee?
The Mormon Stance on Coffee
In the 1800s, a small store (Whitney & Co.) in Kirtland, Ohio, was the site where the founder of Mormons, Joseph Smith, had the revelation regarding coffee.
Above the small store was where Joseph and Emma Smith lived with their two children. Joseph held meetings known as the School of the Prophets. Men gathered in a small room in Smith’s home, where he instructed the men in the ministry. There he also recorded revelations he had.
Emma approached Joseph with her concern regarding the crowded conditions of the meeting room and the excessive use of tobacco during the meetings by the men. She was finding it challenging to keep the room clean because of the residual buildup from pipes, cigars, etc. Joseph took this concern to the Lord and asked for His help.
On February 27, 1833, Joseph had a revelation (also known as Word of Wisdom) from the Lord in answer to his petition on what to do about the smoking in the meeting room. Joseph’s revelation barred the use of tobacco, as well as the consumption of alcohol and hot beverages—like tea and coffee.
This “Word of Wisdom” was canonized as a health code in the “Doctrine and Covenants,” which Mormons follow. The “health code” (D&C 89:9) instructed Mormons (Latter-Day Saints) against the use of tobacco as well as consuming alcohol and hot beverages (tea and coffee.) Mormons were commanded to observe the health code, although a blind eye was turned while many continued to smoke, chew, drink, and consume hot beverages.
In 1921 Heber Grant replaced Joseph Smith as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Grant set forth a requirement that all Mormons were to consider their body a temple of which must be approached as such. Thus nothing harmful should be consumed, such as alcohol, tea, and coffee. Nor should one smoke or chew tobacco.
The specific revelation reasoning that Joseph Smith received on why hot beverages are “not for the belly,” is unknown. There are many assumptions that it’s because of the addictive nature of caffeine or the fact that it stimulates the brain and nervous system. Others state that hot beverages may cause cancer of the esophagus or stomach.
So, in a nutshell, most Mormons perceive coffee as taboo and avoid it. And in answer to a burning question, “Can Mormons drink decaf coffee?” that would be a “no.” It’s still considered a hot beverage.
Many Mormons aren’t sure why the church forbids hot beverages because they are allowed to drink caffeinated soft drinks. It has long been assumed that because tea and coffee contain caffeine (which is addictive), that was the reason for avoidance. However, it seems that many Mormons follow what the health code advises without questioning why.
Can Mormons drink iced coffee since it’s not a “hot” beverage? Coffee, whether hot or cold, is seemingly not allowed in any form.
But what about someone who claims, “I’m a Mormon, and I drink coffee” Each individual Mormon must use their own judgment to drink coffee or not. What happens to Mormons if they drink coffee? Well, they are not allowed to worship in the temple. It also prevents them from being receptive to personal revelations.
The Last “Sip”…
Now that you have a glimpse into why Mormons don’t drink coffee, you will understand their choice to abstain. For those of us who have coffee flowing through our veins, we must respect the decision by others not to drink it.