Uncovering the Reasons: Why Can't Mormons Drink Coffee?

Dec 17


Jane Scaplen

Jane Scaplen

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Coffee - it’s more than just a beverage. It’s a ritual, a pick-me-up, a comfort, and for many, an essential part of a daily routine. But what if your faith asked you to give it up? For Mormons, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is a reality. The Word of Wisdom, a health code for Mormons, advises against the consumption of coffee, putting it in the same category as tobacco, alcohol, and harmful drugs. This leads to the question, why can’t Mormons drink coffee?

This blog post delves into the reasons behind this prohibition,Uncovering the Reasons: Why Can't Mormons Drink Coffee? Articles exploring the Word of Wisdom, how it shapes the attitudes of Mormons towards coffee, and the changing perspectives in the Mormon community. We’ll also look at the alternatives for those seeking a caffeine-free lifestyle and the potential impacts on the church’s policies regarding why can’t Mormons drink coffee.

Key Takeaways

  • The Word of Wisdom is an important part of the Mormon faith which prohibits certain substances and promotes healthy dietary practices.
  • Coffee, including its decaffeinated form, is seen as a stimulant with potential for addiction and thus discouraged in the Latter-day Saints community.
  • Personal choice and interpretation lead to varying practices in coffee consumption within the Mormon community. Breaking this guideline can have spiritual or social repercussions.

The Word of Wisdom: A Guideline for Mormons

The Word of Wisdom: A Guideline for Mormons The Word of Wisdom is an integral part of the Mormon faith, setting the benchmark for health practices to follow. Introduced by Joseph Smith in the early 19th century, this health code enhances physical and spiritual health by encouraging a balanced diet and discouraging the intake of harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, and hot drinks, notably coffee and tea.

Adherence to the Word of Wisdom is seen as a sign of faithfulness and commitment to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following these guidelines is considered a way for Mormons to strengthen their relationship with God and receive both physical and spiritual blessings.

Origin of the Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom has its roots in a divine revelation received by the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, in 1833. Joseph Smith, seeking guidance from the Lord to prepare recent converts for their spiritual journey, was bestowed with God’s dietary rules for Mormons.

Yet, the Word of Wisdom wasn’t uniformly received across the Mormon community. Some individuals weighed the perceived health benefits of certain substances against the restrictions set forth in the Word of Wisdom, leading to diverse interpretations and practices.

Regardless, Joseph Smith officially documented and disseminated the Word of Wisdom, highlighting the need to avoid harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee, and encouraging the consumption of wholesome foods.

Key Principles of the Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom draws a clear line when it comes to consuming alcohol, illegal drugs, and the consumption of certain other substances. It explicitly prohibits the intake of alcohol, tobacco, and ‘hot drinks’, which are interpreted to include coffee and tea. The rationale behind this prohibition is not merely physical, but also spiritual, as these substances are regarded as harmful and potentially addictive. Therefore, to drink alcohol is considered a violation of this principle.

While some might view this as a strict prohibition, the Word of Wisdom is more than a list of dietary restrictions. It is a guideline aimed at maintaining a healthy lifestyle, fostering both physical and spiritual health. Mormons uphold the belief that abstaining from harmful substances aligns them with God’s will, thereby fortifying their spiritual connection.

Coffee's Place in Mormon Beliefs

Coffee's Place in Mormon Beliefs Coffee holds a unique place in Mormon beliefs. Despite its widespread consumption globally, it is one of the substances that the Word of Wisdom advises against. The prohibition of coffee is rooted in its classification as a ‘hot drink’ in the Word of Wisdom and its potential for addiction due to its caffeine content.

Though the Word of Wisdom doesn’t specifically mention caffeine, church leaders have inferred it includes coffee due to the stimulant properties of caffeine. Therefore, faithful Mormons avoid coffee, regardless of its form, be it hot, iced, or even decaffeinated, as they all fall under the classification of coffee.

Caffeine and its Effects

Caffeine, a key component of coffee, is seen as a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is a stimulant that can provide an energy boost, but on the other hand, it has the potential to lead to addiction. This potential for addiction is one of the reasons why Mormons are advised against consuming caffeinated drinks like coffee and not to drink coffee.

The impact of caffeine is not just physical but also spiritual. The Word of Wisdom promotes physical and spiritual well-being by advocating the avoidance of harmful substances such as coffee. Some members of the Latter-day Saints community have recounted personal stories of relatives who grappled with coffee addiction, emphasizing the rationale behind the community’s avoidance of caffeine.

Interpretation of "Hot Drinks"

The term ‘hot drinks’ as mentioned in the Word of Wisdom has sparked considerable discussion and varying interpretations within the Mormon community. Officially, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defines ‘hot drinks’ as coffee and tea, explicitly excluding hot chocolate and herbal teas.

However, interpretations of ‘hot drinks’ can vary among individual Mormons. Some interpret it to specifically refer to coffee and tea, while others may interpret it more broadly to include any beverage that is hot in temperature. However, it should be underscored that according to the official interpretation by Church leaders, ‘hot drinks’ specifically refers to coffee and tea.

The Impact of Coffee Consumption on Mormon Life

The Word of Wisdom’s stance on coffee has a significant impact on the life of a Mormon. Although the guidelines unequivocally discourage coffee consumption, adherence to these rules is subject to personal choice and interpretation. This leads to a spectrum of practices within the Mormon community, from strict compliance to more liberal interpretations.

Some Mormons may choose to consume coffee, weighing its perceived health benefits against the restrictions set forth in the Word of Wisdom. Others may have specific health considerations that necessitate their consumption of coffee. Nevertheless, the majority of Mormons abstain from coffee, viewing its consumption as a violation of their faith’s health code.

Personal Choice and Interpretation

The decision to consume or abstain from coffee is a personal one for many Mormons, influenced by individual interpretations of the Word of Wisdom, religious identity, cultural beliefs, and personal experiences. This results in varied practices within the community, showcasing the complexity of personal choice in religious observance.

For instance, some Mormons view the prohibition of coffee as a sign of faithfulness, choosing to abstain as a testament to their commitment to the teachings of the Church. Others may interpret the Word of Wisdom differently, considering factors such as the changing context of what is considered harmful, or the perceived health benefits of coffee.

Repercussions for Breaking the Word of Wisdom

Although the LDS Church doesn’t impose formal penalties for coffee consumption, significant social and spiritual repercussions can occur. Consuming coffee may result in exclusion from participating in temple worship and holding certain leadership positions within the church. This could potentially influence a Mormon’s spiritual standing within their community, indicating a departure from religious observance.

Additionally, Mormons who choose to consume coffee may encounter social pressures, including potential judgment or disapproval from fellow members of the Church. Despite this, individual decisions regarding whether Mormons drink coffee or not are largely respected within the community, reflecting the importance of personal choice and interpretation in the practice of the Mormon faith.

Coffee Alternatives for Mormons

Coffee Alternatives for Mormons A variety of alternatives exists for those Mormons who opt to follow the Word of Wisdom’s guidance on coffee. From non-caffeinated beverages to caffeine-free coffee substitutes, Mormons have a range of options to choose from.

Intriguingly, there’s been a growth in the market for caffeine-free coffee substitutes, with several companies producing Mormon-friendly coffee substitutes, including:

  • Pero
  • Jnantik Superfood Maya Seed Coffee Alternative
  • Moringa
  • Crio Bru
  • Four Sigmatic

Non-Caffeinated Beverages

Non-caffeinated beverages are a popular choice among Mormons, as Mormons drink iced coffee less frequently and Mormons drink tea even less often. These include herbal tea, hot chocolate, and flavored sodas, which do not contain addictive substances, aligning with the principles of the Word of Wisdom.

While hot chocolate does contain a small amount of caffeine, it is permissible for Mormons as it does not contain addictive substances to the extent found in substances prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. This highlights the nuanced approach to caffeine consumption within the Mormon community, where the nature and degree of the substance’s effects are taken into consideration when they drink hot chocolate.

Caffeine-Free Coffee Substitutes

Caffeine-free coffee substitutes offer a middle ground for those who enjoy the taste of coffee but choose to adhere to the Word of Wisdom’s guidance. These coffee substitutes, such as Pero, Postum, and Inka, are made by combining ingredients like barley, chicory, rye, and sugar beet, which are often roasted and ground to achieve a coffee-like flavor.

These coffee substitutes, including iced coffee, may have a similar taste to regular coffee, though some individuals may perceive a slightly distinct flavor or a less intense profile. Despite these minor differences, they offer a viable and acceptable alternative for Mormons who choose to abstain from coffee.

The Evolving Perspective on Coffee in the Mormon Community

The view on coffee consumption within the Mormon community is dynamic, evolving over time. Shifting societal norms and changing attitudes, particularly among younger generations, have led to a more nuanced view of coffee consumption.

Indeed, coffee is gradually gaining acceptance within the Mormon community. Surveys suggest that a growing percentage of younger members are more lenient in their interpretation of the faith’s Word of Wisdom regarding coffee consumption. This evolving viewpoint may in time instigate changes in the church’s policies.

Generational Differences

Younger generations of Mormons are demonstrating a more flexible approach to the Word of Wisdom. Despite recognizing the importance of the health code, they apply a more lenient interpretation and application, resulting in increased coffee consumption.

This less rigid adherence to the Word of Wisdom reflects the changing cultural and societal norms within the Mormon community. Younger Mormons may view the prohibition of coffee in a different light, considering factors such as personal preferences, cultural influences, or a belief that drinking coffee does not violate the Word of Wisdom.

Potential Impact on Church Policies

This shift in perspective among younger generations of Mormons could potentially lead to changes in Church policies. The Church has historically demonstrated its willingness to adapt its policies in response to shifting perspectives among church members, such as changes in beliefs regarding evolution, initiatives to engage with millennials and Generation Z, and revisions to marriage policies.

Nevertheless, any prospective policy changes would necessitate a comprehensive process of consideration and discussion among the Church leadership, seeking divine guidance through prayer and revelation. While the Church has adjusted its interpretation and emphasis on the Word of Wisdom over time, the fundamental principles and restrictions have remained unchanged.


The prohibition of coffee in the Mormon faith is rooted in the Word of Wisdom, a health code that aims to promote physical and spiritual well-being. While coffee is considered a ‘hot drink’ and is therefore discouraged, the interpretation and adherence to this guidance vary among Mormons, reflecting the complex interplay of personal choice, cultural influences, and religious commitment.

In recent years, a shift in perspective has been observed, particularly among younger Mormons, leading to a more flexible approach to the Word of Wisdom and an increase in coffee consumption. Regardless of these changing attitudes, the core principles of the Word of Wisdom remain integral to the faith and practice of Mormons, serving as a testament to their commitment to maintaining physical and spiritual health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is coffee not allowed in Mormon?

Mormons adhere to the Word of Wisdom, which advises against consuming hot drinks as outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 89:9 and 14. Therefore, coffee is not allowed in Mormon doctrine as it would go against the law of health set forth by the Lord.

Why can Mormons drink soda but not coffee?

Mormons abide by the Word of Wisdom, a law revealed by the Lord which states that tea and coffee are not to be consumed, as per Doctrine and Covenants 89:9. This is why Mormons cannot drink coffee, but may still enjoy other caffeinated beverages such as soda.

Why is coffee against the Word of Wisdom?

The Lord specifically forbids us from using coffee in the Doctrine and Covenants 89:8-9, and modern prophets have repeatedly taught that it can be harmful to our health and enslave us to addiction. Therefore, coffee goes against the Word of Wisdom.

What foods can Mormons not eat?

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, only coffee, tea and alcohol are explicitly prohibited. Other food items are allowed, but it's encouraged to consume fruit seasonally, eat meat sparingly, and to eat grain, especially wheat.

What are the alternatives to coffee for Mormons?

Mormons looking for an alternative to coffee can opt for non-caffeinated beverages like herbal teas and hot chocolate, as well as caffeine-free coffee substitutes such as Pero, Postum, and Inka.