Remember the astronaut guy, Newcomb, who said that it was impossible for objects heavier than air to fly? Or when that dude, Pepys, who wrote cool diaries, said that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet would be a flop? Or even when one of the Warner Brothers claimed that nobody would want to hear actors talk? Well, even if you don’t, I think we can all agree that those guys were… wrong. Unfortunately, many things beyond flight, love, and speaking have been projected to fail, or purely misconceived, that have proven theories to be incorrect. In fact, one of our favorite drinks, coffee, has historically been thought to cause some pretty weird stuff. And, most recently, coffee has FINALLY been proven to be healthy by scientists (with a few warnings, of course). Let’s take a look at the historical headlines that have led up to this recent discovery.

Early 1500s to 1800s 

It all started in the 1500s, when the mayor of Mecca banned, (yes, BANNED), coffee temporarily, due to the immoral tendencies of the patrons of coffeehouses. The ban was short, and ineffective to say the least, and coffee grew in popularity throughout the century, approaching its next conspiracy theory: coffee was the cure to alcoholism.

Back when water wasn’t always sanitary, booze came along as a “safer” alternative. Of course, with consumers ranging from young children to grandma and grandpa, alcohol was not an ideal alternative for hydration, and coffee was welcomed with open arms. The first hints of coffee’s ability to speed up metabolism emerged around this time, along with some fibs about stomachaches, headaches, and even miscarriage prevention. Women, however, observed that coffee was causing their husbands to be…impotent. This led to the 1674 Women’s Petition Against Coffee. Talk about haters!

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, mocha
Jocelyn Hsu

Of course, coffee grew again when the Boston Tea Party nixed the herbal drink of choice, and attracted additional scrutiny as years went by. During our own Civil War, coffee supplies were grim, and new alternative beverages emerged claiming that they were better than coffee, categorizing it alongside hard drugs like morphine and cocaine; headlines even claimed it could cause one to go blind!


After the drama subsided, along with the vicious and unsupported rumors, enter the 20th and 21st centuries and their scientific accomplishments. In the early 1900s, coffee was accused of stunting growth and causing bad grades. Later, it was predicted to increase risk of heart attacks. At the start of the 21st century, coffee was associated with urinary tract and lung cancer, just before things started to turn around.

2011, 2012, and 2013 saw headlines that coffee was a risk-lowerer, even “practically a health food.” Just a week ago, the Washington Post released an article declaring that, yes, coffee was overall good for you. YES! Coffee can prevent cancer.

Ok, lets not go too far. Coffee has been found to be associated with minimized risk for breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancer. Additionally, evidence shows that it reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Caffeine and associated chemicals in coffee were fond to aid in containing antioxidants, regulating bodily functions, and organ and metabolism performance. Health food? I think yes!

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, mocha, cereal, decaffeinated coffee
Eddie Ngai

All I have to say is I’ve got my water boiling and a hefty mug ready for my favorite pour over coffee brew, and I might up my game if the most recent theories are true. But—then again, with the way history has twisted and turned, who knows what’s coming next?