Mormons Don’t Drink Coffee. Here’s Why.

mormon-temple

I’m a Mormon.  I have been all my life.  Consequently, I’ve never drunk coffee–ever.  Not even once.  It may seem strange to some, but for me, it’s just a way of life.

There is a simple reason why Mormons don’t drink coffee: We believe the prophet Joseph Smith received revelation from God commanding the church to follow a specific diet.  We believe that God blesses us with health and other spiritual blessings for following this commandment.  This is not unusual when you think about it.  God also commanded His people in Biblical times to follow a specific diet.  It’s really as simple as that.

The teaching comes from the Lord’s law of health that was given from God to Joseph Smith, and which echoes similar laws taught in the Bible.

Where the Teaching About Coffee Came From

Joseph Smith was the first Mormon prophet.  We believe that God and Jesus Christ directed him to re-establish God’s church–the same church that existed when Christ was on the earth.

As God’s prophet, just like Moses and Abraham and Noah from the Bible, Joseph Smith received teachings from God and relayed them to the people.

In 1833, Joseph Smith taught God’s law of health.  You can read the whole thing here.  It contains many teachings which by today’s knowledge of science and health would be common sense, but which at the time almost no one in the world knew about and few believed.  For example, it teaches that we should not use tobacco.

It also teaches that we should eat wholesome foods such as grains (the biggest portion of the food pyramid today); fruits and herbs (second tier of the food pyramid today); and meats.

It also teaches that alcohol and other “strong drinks” should not be consumed.  While many consume alcohol socially without causing any real harm, Mormons do not so that we can maintain full control of our choices.  It’s difficult to count the number of lives which have been ended and the wrongs that have been done because of alcohol abuse.

Coffee is never actually mentioned by name in the Lord’s law of health.  Rather, it says to not consume “hot drinks.”  Later, members of the church asked the prophet what this phrase meant, and it was clarified that “hot drinks” means coffee and tea.

This is interesting as well.  Science today in 2016 is just finding the dangerous affects of “hot drinks.”

But, to us, the choice to keep this commandment isn’t about science.  It’s about doing what God asked us to do, and we believe that when we do so, God blesses us.

Why God Asks Us to Not Drink Coffee and Be Free of Addictions

God made many promises to those who follow his law of health.  Here is what the Word of Wisdom (what Mormons call their law of health) says adherents will be blessed with:

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones.

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.”

Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

Why Doesn’t the Bible Mention Anything About Coffee, Then?

Probably because the first record of anyone drinking coffee is in the 1400s 😉

However, the Bible does show us a few things that can help us understand why the Lord would reveal a law of health.  The Bible teaches: (1) That God has always had laws of health (2) that we should remain free of addiction, and (3) that God wants us to protect our bodies from harm.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the people not to eat some types of meat.  Other biblical references warn against eating too much sugar (Proverbs 25:16), teach to eat wholesome grains (Ezekiel 4:9), etc.  These verses (and literally dozens of others I could add) show that God creating laws of health with specific prohibitions is not at all a novel concept.

There are dozens more references in the Bible about addiction.

Last, God taught in the Bible that we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  The Bible says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Is This About Caffeine?

Possibly.  Many have assumed that the reason the Word of Wisdom prohibits drinking coffee is because of the amount of caffeine in the drink, which has been shown time and again to cause health problems.  However, I do want to point out that the reason WHY the Lord prohibited coffee in the Word of Wisdom is not explained.  Just as in Biblical times when the Lord commanded the people to only eat manna for a time, to not eat pork for a time, etc, there were no reasons explained for those commandments.  The Lord simply told the people what to do, and not why they were doing it.

Because Mormons believe our prophet receives revelation for God, we are able to follow this commandment.  The reason WHY is less important to us, but is nonetheless interesting.

Don’t you ever want to at least try coffee?

Nope.  Not really.  I’ve learned long ago that I’m happiest when I stick to my beliefs.  I can understand that it may seem strange, but I bet it’d make more sense if you read this page that explains why I’m a Mormon and why I believe.

I’ve seen enough to know that my religion is true and that I can be closest to God by following the teachings I learn in the scriptures and at church.

So no, I’m not interested.

Thank You!

Thank you for taking the time to learn about our beliefs.  There are many, many people in the world who seem bent on ridiculing and belittling the sincere beliefs of others.  I appreciate you taking a minute to seek to understand us.

If you’d like to learn a little more, I’d love it if you read this page about why I believe.

Jim Harmer

I own an online company where I create websites which are read by millions of people. I'm a non-practicing lawyer, husband and a father of three little kiddos. My faith in Christ is the most important aspect of my life, and this blog is where I get to share my beliefs. The rest of the time, I'm riding dirt bikes or traveling the world taking pictures. I live in Star, Idaho where I attend my local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each month, over 30,000 people come to this site to learn about the basic beliefs of my religion, and it's my privilege to share about it. The opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as this blog is not an official source of church information. However, every effort is put into providing accurate information in support of the church.

41 thoughts on “Mormons Don’t Drink Coffee. Here’s Why.

  1. I am really reacting badly to coffee and I am not sure why. It was at the point that I started to accuse people that they were drugging my coffee that I realized I had no choice to quit. I have read literature about the benefits of coffee and it is sold as a supplement for weight loss so for the longest time I refused to accept that coffee had negative side effects. I recently took my faith to a whole new level and started reading the Bible everyday. It was at this point I started to notice I was reacting badly to something but couldn’t figure it out for the longest time. At first I thought I had mental health problems but later I discovered that the problems occurred around the time I drank coffee. Yesterday I drank a pot of coffee and found myself in a world of conspiracy. I know this doesn’t make sense and even at the time I knew it wasn’t real but certain thoughts kept coming into my head. Today I didn’t drink coffee and didn’t experience any of these symptoms and had a very relaxed day compared to yesterday. Is it possible to be susceptible to spiritual attacks when drinking coffee? Especially since I have now started praying and reading the Bible everyday. I am posting this because I am curious if anyone else has reacted this badly to coffee.

    1. Hi Chad. Well, I’ve never drank coffee so I really couldn’t tell you. But I do believe that God does not want us to drink coffee, and thus the reason for the Word of Wisdom. Have you considered talking with some Mormon missionaries? If you go to Mormon.org, you can request a visit. They can come to your house and chat with you about it and give you a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon. Those are the books where you learn about the Word of Wisdom and why it’s important to our health and spiritual health.

    2. Yes when I started going to the mormon church I and that I wanted to be a member of the church I ave up coffee (I am 66 been drinking coffee since I was 18)
      I found after 3 days my coughing and heavyness in my chest went away and I have had no problems since. God
      helped me in 3 days. I believe in the Church of Ladder day Saints . Believe in God talk to Jesus, have faith and small good things will happen to you, the small things are the most important things that will comfort you.
      In Jesus name Amen.

    3. Chad, I can’t believe I was able to find this today. It’s like another Revelation to help me.

      The same thing happens to me. Yesterday without coffee I had a wonderful relaxing day and slept so much better than usual. The day before I was in crisis even to the point of panic attacks, and asked every friend of mine to pray for me. Can I have a feeling coffee as having the exact same negative effects on me. And I don’t even drink that much: one mug all day.!!
      Your testimony has helped me come to the conclusion that I should absolutely stay away from coffee at any cost. A good life heeding the word of Our Lord is the most important thing in our existence and should never be taken for granted, neither should his word. I feel that your testimony has been a small blessing and I thank you for coming forward with it to the public. God be with you.

    4. Same thing happens to me. Coffee makes my husband very overly hyper and it stresses me out. And it makes me feel out of control too. We both cannot have coffee.

    5. I believe caffeine affects my disposition. When I drink caffeine I find myself more easily annoyed by innocent and minor everyday occurrences. That does not make for having a good day (“A man is as big as the things that annoy him”). I have struggled all my life trying to stay away from caffeine. I have kept away for as long as many years at a time and then I fall off. Still… today I can stay away for days, weeks, months, but still I fall off. I am 69 years old. To me the world appears brighter without artificial stimulants, but I also realize that anything that comes easy is not worth having.

  2. I have been an investigator for about six months, I was to be baptized when things turned out to be a bit disappointed to me, the missionaries never told me about being five days clean from coffee. but the worst was a member in church admitting on drinking coffee, that’s being a hypocrite, that makes me think twice about being part of this church sad indeed!

    1. @Disappointed – I’m so sorry you had that experience. I can see why you’re disappointed. I too have felt been let down by people both inside and outside the church and I felt like they were hypocrites for teaching one thing and doing another; However, I learned something that helped me.

      I realized that I had been thinking of the church as a place where the good people go to learn about God. That wasn’t right. In fact, the church is a place where EVERYONE goes to learn about God. Some of those people struggle with being dishonest. Others may have a hot temper. Others may have anxiety or depression, etc. Others may be excellent people who are obedient and good, but who allow that to make them prideful.

      In the end, I learned that the church is a hospital where we all go to be healed. It’s certainly wrong for someone to teach one thing and do another, and so I totally understand why you feel as you do. But now I understand that this simply means that we humans are still not perfect, and we need to continue going to church and learning to become more like God.

    2. It sounds like you went into this with the heart of a cynic not someone looking for salvation. If your heart is Tainted so will your experiences be. Seek advice.

  3. I too am a member of the church and I have a very hard time with the hypocrisy of hot drinks vs cokes. The Word of Wisdom did not include caffeinated sodas because they had not been invented. For the church to say Coke is OK but Tea is not…. just wrong. Many sodas have more caffeine than many teas.

    1. @Cindy – I understand how you feel. I wondered about the same thing until I realized that caffeine may or may not be the issue at all. Who says that the reason we aren’t to drink tea and coffee is because it has caffeine? I believe that’s something that Mormon culture has just assumed.

      When it comes right down to it, we just need to decide if we believe that the president of the church is God’s prophet or not. If so, then we don’t even need to understand the reasons. If not, then we’d go down another path.

      I do have a testimony of the prophet being God’s mouthpiece on earth, and have no problem following his counsel.

      1. President Monson clarified recently that caffiene was NOT the reason we don’t drink tea or coffee. As for caffiene, I don’t believe we have been told it’s ok, but that we must decide for ourselves if it is right for us. That being said, we have been warned against consuming anything that is addictive and can be harmful, and caffiene is VERY addictive for many people. It can be extremely harmful when consumed in large quantities. I admit I enjoy a Pepsi every now and then, but I no longer drink more than one or two a week, as it causes blood pressure, heart rate, and intestine issues. As with all things, the Lord gives us commandments and wisdom, but we are free to choose. It’s OUR choices that we need to govern for ourselves.

      2. I have often questioned this. And not for lack of faith, I fully and completely support the prophet of our church. But in the word of wisdom it says hot drinks should not be consumed. What is the difference between coffee and hot chocolate, why is one ok while the other is not? To me the answer of because the prophet said to is not enough. I believe it was a conference talk that President Eyring gave, and he says to not just blindly accept all teachings, but to ask questions and get clarification. So I’m interested to hear what someone else’s take on this is, because I don’t know the answer to this question.

        1. Thank you for your reply, Jordon. I agree that we should seek to understand as much as we can about the Lord’s commandments so that we can follow both the letter and spirit of those laws. However, I also want to point out that sometimes, we simply don’t know the reason WHY a commandment is given, yet we should still accept it.

          Such was the case with Naman, who did not understand WHY Elisha asked him to bathe in the river 7 times. Such was the case with Christ when he did not understand why it was not possible for God to take away the cup of pain. Such was the case with me when the Lord asked me in prayer one day to go visit my home teaching family right away, and I didn’t understand why until I got there. Seeking to understand WHY can help us sometimes learn to see things as the Lord sees them, but NOT understanding why is never a sufficient reason to disobey.

          Some research has shown that hot drinks can be harmful because of their temperature: http://www.ldsliving.com/Recent-Studies-from-WHO-Back-Up-One-of-the-Most-Contested-Parts-of-the-Word-of-Wisdom/s/82418 But remember to read the blessings of the word of wisdom: great treasures of knowledge and having the destroying angel pass by, and you’ll quickly see that it’s more than just a health code.

          I would commend this article to your reading https://history.lds.org/article/doctrine-and-covenants-word-of-wisdom?lang=eng to understand more about the revelation in general and for official confirmation that hot drinks can be understood to mean coffee and tea.

  4. I am a born again Christian and I do agree that the Bible teaches that we should not consume things that put us under addictition. However, I live in a city that the vast majority of the people is Mormon and while they do abstain from drinking coffee they then turn around and drink cafinated “cold” drinks on a daily basis. Such as Diet Coke, Mountain Dew etc. They also eat foods that nutritionists would classify as bad for your body and then they also drink hot chocolate. Shouldn’t all of those things be bad as well? Not just coffee? Thanks

    1. @Confused – Thank you for your comment. Caffeine is assumed by some to be the reason for the Word of Wisdom’s counsel not to drink coffee, but that is only an assumption. Just as God commanded several times in the Bible for the people to follow a specific diet and did not provide a scientific explanation, the same is true with the word of wisdom. Caffeine may or may not be the reason.

  5. This article never pointed out the real reason why Mormons don’t drink coffee or tea. It’s because of a chemical called tannic acid. Tannic acid is used to tan rawhide into leather. Just think of what your stomach would look like after several years of drinking them!

    1. This, again, is just speculation. The real reason is that we don’t know. We are told by the prophet to keep the commandments, and because we have prayed to gain a testimony, we believe that it is right for us to obey.

  6. I loved this article. It made my testimony about the word of wisdom even stronger. Especially because we came to this earth to grow and become closer to our Heavenly Father, and for that to happen we need to be tested in all things and if “all things” includes not drink or eat certain things… so be it! I have experienced true happiness from following God’s commandments. And Im thankful to know that there are people who defend their faith so openly and so politely just the same as the people who are looking for answers. Thank you for the article!

  7. MIL has Alzheimers.

    https://www.alzheimers.net/2014-04-09/benefits-of-coffee/

    he women who self reported drinking two to three eight-ounce cups of coffee or five to six eight-ounce cups of black tea (approximately 26 mg of caffeine daily), were 36% less likely to develop dementia during the 10 year follow up period.
    https://www.alzheimers.net/5-4-15-coffee-prevent-alzheimers/

    1. Hi Lindsay J – Thank you for your comment. I see so many health studies that sometimes I find it hard to know what to believe. I recently read a study about the fantastic health benefits of dark chocolate. It seems that statistics can be manipulated to show many things.

      But the reason we don’t drink coffee has little to do with science. It has much more to do with faith in our Lord who we believe has asked us to follow this health code.

      While the purpose of this commandment is primarily to show our faith to God, studies have repeatedly shown that Mormons on average live multiple years longer than the average population, so there may be health benefits to following this commandment as well.

  8. I’ve been inactive from the church for the past 10 years, I am now 28 and working on getting married in the Temple. I am having a very hard time with this whole coffee and tea issue. I consider myself very physically active and healthy, I don’t drink carbonated drinks ever or any drinks high in sugars, and have a pretty healthy diet. I admit I love my coffee and teas, Its my go to drink to have as a “treat” since pretty much the only other liquid I drink is water. I’m having a pretty hard time letting this go, I’ve tried finding a reason why this substances might be bad for me and why the church says we shouldn’t drink it, yet caffeine is ok ? What about iced tea or iced coffee? So far all I have found is simply because the prophet said so.

    1. I can see why this would be difficult, Karensita. What I’d encourage you to do is what the Lord has said about another commandment: “Prove me now herewith to see if I will not open the windows of heaven and give a blessing wherewith there is no room to receive it.” Follow the commandment with faith and let the Lord show to you his wisdom.

  9. Why isn’t anyone allowed to mention the real cold hard truth which many suspect? This has nothing to do with health or teachings. This is about obedience and control. Somewhere along the line, some moron decided to prohibit coffee, the rest of the cult obeyed, and so it stuck. Haha.

    1. Dear Mickey Mouse – The fact that you wrote your comment with a pseudonym and a fake email address shows me that you aren’t proud of what you wrote. You’re welcome to disagree with my or anyone else’s beliefs, but your judgmental attitude is not helpful in this discussion.

      I found your comment especially surprising because you said that perhaps this commandment has nothing to do with health but somewhere along the line the prophet taught us to not drink it. That’s actually what I said in this article. I said “We believe the prophet Joseph Smith received revelation from God.”

      One other point. You poke fun at my belief in a prophet and my willingness to obey God’s prophets. Behind that comment you intimate that doing so is foolish. I agree, it WOULD be foolish to believe for the sake of believing, but that is not the basis of my faith. I follow the prophet because I have personally prayed and sought to know if he is truly God’s prophet and because of the things I have learned through communion with God through prayer, I believe.

      You’re welcome to believe as you wish and I will treat your beliefs with civility and respect.

  10. Just curious regarding not drinking coffee or alcohol. I thought Jesus and his disciples drank wine; or was it non alcoholic wine?

  11. Great blog, and great responses to each comment and question. Very respectful. I admire your approach to discussion especially in the face of disagreement.

  12. I too have been inactive for quite some time and love my coffee. I started going back to church a year ago, and I know that there is temple work for me to do so I will stop drinking it.
    The revelation says hot drinks, not coffee and tea. In the LDS history I found that it was Hyrum who interpreted hot drinks to mean coffee and tea, and I would have made that assumption too back then. But I’m really curious to know if it’s really the Lord’s intention to say coffee and tea is harmful? I’ve been praying a lot about this. The Holy Ghost has warmed me from alcohol and tobacco, but I haven’t felt a warning on coffee. I would love to talk to someone about this. If President Nelson came out and said coffee is bad I’d be the first one to stop drinking it. I even quit my keto diet because I believe that it’s not following the word of wisdom. I get the feeling that hot drinks means the temperature of the drink. There are lots of studies that suggest drinking anything above 149 degrees causes esophageal cancer and damages tissue. I don’t want to sound like a rebel, I want to obey and live how He wants me to. But Hyrum wasn’t the prophet, his brother was.
    I’ll give it up to do the temple work, but I wish I had a stronger testimony regarding coffee and tea being bad. It makes no sense how Red Bull and energy drinks are fine, but a cup of black coffee isn’t. Again, I’m not trying to be a rebel. If anyone has additional references regarding this I would love to read it. Coffee is such a petty thing to quibble over, and doing the work in the temple is way more important, but I’ve been curious for a while. I also read that they drank coffee and tea at very high temps, nearly boiling point and often right from the pot they heated the water in.
    Did the Lord really mean coffee and tea, or was he saying be cautious of the temperature? I’d love to know.

    1. Hi Kristin, it appears from your comment that you sincerely want to do what is right, but just want to be sure you understand the commandment correctly. I admire that.

      Latter-day prophets have made it very clear that coffee and tea are prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. For more info, you can see the section in True to the Faith on the topic https://www.lds.org/manual/true-to-the-faith/word-of-wisdom?lang=eng or the FAQ page #19 here https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/frequently-asked-questions or about two dozen other places. So the church has been very clear about this commandment, including many recent statements about it.

      But I think part of your question is WHY no coffee? Frankly, I don’t know why the Lord requires us to live this commandment. I also don’t know why the Lord had a specific health code in Old Testament times prohibiting eating pork. I do know, however, that President Nelson is our prophet and this is a commandment for us, and that the Lord has many times required specific diet/health laws of his people.

      So, I don’t have all the answers for you. I do have the Lord’s promises, though. I suggest you show your faith and prove the Lord herewith, and see if He will not give you the blessings promised in the Word of Wisdom, which are both physical and (mostly) spiritual.

    2. Honestly, it isn’t about the Lord, our Messiah, telling you can’t have black coffee. It is your religion telling you that you can’t. No where in the Bible does it say you cannot have coffee or hot drinks. 💕

      1. Yes, that’s true. Nowhere in the Bible does it even mention coffee. However, we do see instances in the Bible where the Lord required specific laws of health that prohibited them from eating and drinking specific things. The only reason that we follow the Word of Wisdom is because we believe God has called a prophet today who can give us the Lord’s will.

    3. I do know that coffee can be addictive so if you like the flavor I suggest decaf. I drink decaf for many reasons but since I like the flavor of coffee and other drinks I stay away from caffeine anyway.
      I hope this helps you. 💕

  13. Hi, I have read through all these comments as I was also curious about this question. I think the best answers are due to tannic acid and to simply obey God in which sometimes there does not have to be a reason to understand why. It is also very addictive. If in doubt, don’t do it and you can’t go wrong.

  14. No offense but there is still no where in the Bible that says God doesn’t want us to drink coffee or hot drinks.
    Tea was around during Christ and it also is shown in the Bible that Christ’s first miricale involved alcohol (he is always perfect and holy so he never sinned by how he did this).
    I find that when you simply listen to a leader vs actually reading your Bible then things aren’t biblical at all- instead of following God’s word- you are following a man that wasn’t even a prophet of the Bible. Gods word says do not add or take away from the Bible and Joseph Smith did exactly this. He thought certain things in the Bible did not line up or make sense to him.
    It concerns me for you. I see no harm in simply wanting a healthy life style by cutting out coffee or teas but I do see a problem with you saying it’s biblical but it isn’t at all. Coke/ soda products are proven to be 100times worse for your body than hot coffee or hot teas and yet Mormons drink those. I just wish you’d look into reading the word of God more than the books that are written by Joseph Smith. 😔

    1. I disagree with this approach. Is it not this precise line of thinking that got the Pharisees in trouble? They only read the law of Moses and wouldn’t accept God’s continued revelation to the people through Christ, and the prophets following Christ such as Paul and Peter.

      We believe God has called a prophet today, and we follow him. We believe he can receive revelation from God just as Peter received revelation after Christ’s resurrection.

      1. Actually- I am not trying to argue but disagree. The Pharisees actually were very legalistic and Jesus Christ was not. Rules were their thing.
        God in His word actually says that if anyone tries to add or take away from His word they are going to be punished greatly so if you are adding and taking away from God’s word and what He says in the Bible. The prophets of the Bible are the only ones that were allowed to add to the Bible. Joseph Smith was outside of when the Bible was written. The sad fact is that he says the Bible was corrupt when it fact is the breath of God. You can’t take bits and pieces of what you do and don’t like about it and then make up more rules to fit with what you want. This is in fact what the Pharisees did.

        1. Yes, pastors from other churches have frequently used the “if anyone tries to add or take away” verse as a shot at my faith. I’ve heard it many times, and it’s unfortunate because it’s pretty obviously not a correct interpretation of that verse. Let me show you why.

          When John wrote “this book” in that sentence, there WAS no New Testament. He was exiled on Patmos and was writing on a scroll to the seven churches. The New Testament wasn’t compiled until much later from the many separate writings of the disciples. So it was impossible that John meant anything other than adding to “this book of prophecy” meant the volume he was currently writing–the Book of Revelation which was written on a scroll. He likely didn’t even know there would ever be a compilation of his and other disciples writings over 100 years later.

          Further, scholars generally agree that Revelation was not the chronologically last-written book added to the Bible. In fact, John’s epistles were likely written after Revelation. So if John meant what you’re saying he meant, then he would be pronouncing the plagues on himself.

          So what did he mean? He meant exactly what he said. Don’t tamper with the “words of the book of THIS prophecy.” The words he was writing on the scroll. We haven’t done that. We read the common King James version of the Bible with no changes.

          In fact, the Book of Revelation refers MANY times to heavenly messengers coming down to earth in future times bringing messages to the people. Thus, continued revelation from God to the people.

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