Dancing Like Demons

by Zoe Pollock

Elissa Lerner reviews a new history book, "Coffee Talk," by Morton Satin, which traces coffee's roots in the Middle East and beyond:

In addition to spates of resistance by Muslim clerics, coffee also met with resistance from the Church, which denounced the beverage as a devil's drink and attempted numerous prohibitions. Eventually however, in a hip move (perhaps presaging Pope Benedict's blessing of Facebook?) Pope Clement VIII sanctified coffee, saying, "We will not let coffee remain the property of Satan. As Christians, our power is greater than Satan's, so we shall make coffee our own." And to complete the Abrahamic trifecta, once coffee was no longer excoriated by the Church, it was a Lebanese Jew who brought coffee to England. He opened the first coffeehouse in Oxford, thus inaugurating the storied relationship between university students and coffee.