011 The Devil's Brew: Coffee 101


Smell the roses. Smell the coffee. Whatever it is that makes you happy.
— Rita Moreno


Stepping into the vast world of coffee can be hugely overwhelming for a post-Mormon who just wants to see what all the fuss is about. You walk into a Starbucks, and instead of the Mormon standard hot chocolate, you decide to take the leap and order a cup of coffee. But what now? What do all those terms on the menu even mean? Like, what the heck is a macchiato?

In this episode, panelists Chloe, Donna, Kristin, and Micaela share the ways Mormonism influenced their beliefs around the consumption of coffee, their first experiences with coffee as they left Mormonism, and where they are now. They also discuss some of the practical and essential aspects of drinking coffee: health considerations, caffeine content, types of coffee drinks, equipment, factors affecting taste, and how to order without feeling like an idiot.  


  • In Mormonism, adherence to the Word of Wisdom–strict avoidance of coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs–is a key religious and cultural touchstone for believing Mormons. It is, in fact, seen as so important that it is one of the 15 questions asked as part of a temple recommend interview. Failure to keep the Word of Wisdom will keep a church member from participation in the church’s highest religious rites. (Fun fact: the revelation on the Word of Wisdom was not initially viewed as a commandment and the adherence to it was not mandatory for temple worship until 1902.)

  • Given the intensity of the indoctrination surrounding the Word of Wisdom, it shouldn’t be surprising that choosing to begin drinking coffee or tea can be a difficult process for someone leaving Mormonism. Even once you have decided that you no longer believe, it may take time to work through the complicated feelings surrounding your decision. Just know this may be the case and know that it’s okay. And it’s also okay if you love it from the start and feel no guilt whatsoever; that’s totally normal too.

  • If you choose to try coffee, know this: here are many, many, many ways to drink coffee (and tea), and it can feel enormously overwhelming at first to try to wrap your head around it. Fortunately, the internet is a blessed friend in situations like this; you can find articles on everything from the basics of coffee to highly specific delicacies like Kopi Luwak (don’t ask). See our Resources Mentioned section below for a handful of links to get you started.

  • Studies appear to show that drinking black coffee in moderation can be part of a healthy diet and is not associated with negative health risks for most people. However, if you suffer from headaches, restlessness, or anxiety, keep a close eye on how coffee affects you. If you are pregnant or diabetic, please talk with your healthcare provider about whether or not coffee consumption is safe for you.


  • For starters, coffee and tea consumption isn’t a requirement of post-Mormon life, although for some of us it’s a lovely benefit. It’s fine not to try it, and it’s fine not to like it if you do try it; we won’t judge you. You do you.

  • Coffee is naturally a bitter taste, so for most folks it’s easier to start with sweetened creamy coffee drinks. Over time, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of sweetener and cream as (or if) you adjust to the flavor. There are many long-time coffee drinkers who still don’t enjoy black coffee, so don’t worry if you never get there.

  • Try a variety of both espresso and brewed coffee drinks to see what you prefer. The beans, the grind, the type of equipment used to brew, the proportions of coffee to milk or cream, and the sweeteners all have an impact on the final product. It’s fun to explore to discover what you’ll really love!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Most baristas are happy to share their favorite drinks or make recommendations, especially if they know you’re new to coffee drinking.


Thanks for listening!

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Oliver ChristensenComment