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Coffee banned in Sweden

Sweden’s coffee loving history is more fascinating than any reality show. Coffee was introduced to Sweden around 1670, drinking its way into sixth place in the world coffee rankings. However, the Swedish have not always been able to partake in the caffeine bump that many of us have so freely enjoyed since time in memoriam. Fika, the Swedish term for taking coffee, is a relatively new concept.

King Alfred Frederick, who ruled Sweden from 1751, believed coffee was repugnant, and responsible for all ill-mannered behaviour. Drinking anything but the devil’s brew was to be encouraged: drinking beer for example. (So bad behaviour has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol consumption). In 1756, the coffee hating monarch felt that imposing taxes would thwart the vile habit from spreading throughout the country. The Swedes, being a stubborn race, flouted the rules and refused to pay the newly imposed taxes.

As a result, the black market coffee trade flourished. Punishments were swift and harsh with the ultimate penalty being the confiscation of all cups and saucers.This punishment proved to be ineffective as people just went out and purchased more cups and saucers. So, later that year, coffee was banned. Coffee has been banned as many as five times in Sweden.

When Gustav III ascended to the throne he inherited his father’s hate and paranoia of all things coffee. He believed that coffee drinkers’ lives were shortened by the effects of caffeine on the body, and decided to undertake a scientific experiment upon two incarcerated subjects, as it happens, twins. The two unfortunates at the time were awaiting execution, having been convicted of murder. Their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment, on the proviso that subject a) was to drink three pots of coffee a day, and subject b) was to drink three pots of tea. I bet these two scoundrels couldn’t believe their luck.

A doctor was assigned to each of the test subjects, and the doctors reported directly to the king. The test subjects outlived the king, who was assassinated in 1792, and both doctors, who died of natural causes. Although the twins were never freed, the moral is “happy Fika, drink coffee and live longer than monarchs and doctors.”

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Wake me up before you go go coffee!!

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