Here’s to Pope Clement VIII

For many of us, the best part of waking up is that first cup of coffee. Of course, after thanking God that we did wake up to another day. Leaving aside arguments on the benefits of coffee or the dangers of drinking too much of it, brewed coffee has an intriguing history and one in which the papacy played a decisive role.

There are multiple legends about the discovery of the coffee bean and how it later became a popular brewed beverage. One story tells how a shepherd named Kaldi in Ethiopia noticed how his sheep became hyperactive after eating the red berries from a certain plant in their pasture. He tried a few of the berries himself and soon was as overly active as his flock. The legend continues that a monk who was passing by rebuked Kaldi for “partaking of the devil’s fruit.” However, in short order the monks discovered that these berries could help them stay awake during their long hours of praying.