10 Icons Who Changed The World Jacked on Coffee

Author: Amy Harris

When looking at people in the public eye who are fans of coffee, I had to wade through a load of celebrities drinking crap before finding the true hero's. Throughout history, coffee has gone through the world picking up fans along the way. Hitting Ethiopia in the 10th century, in Arabia in the 15th century, the Middle East in the 16th century, and then FINALLY it arrived in Europe. 

The coffee popularity quickly took hold, women were not allowed it but never the less,  it could not be stopped!  It tasted awesome and people believed that it had healing powers.  It seemed that the Brits who consumed coffee, appeared to be happier than those who didn't.  Some thought (and I still do!) that it removed the sour vapours left in the brain, after drinking booze.  Whether there is any way to prove that or not who knows but I like it!

By the 1700’s, if Europeans could afford coffee, they were drinking it, even the women.  No one could keep away from the rich, black nectar of the gods!  Not only did us ladies begin to brew our own coffee at home, but many coffee houses opened and the cool creatives began to congregate and share ideas. 

It got to the point where everyone was drinking it, and, in retrospect, you could say that behind every genius was a cup (or gallon!!) of coffee:

Here are some of the most influential in my book .... 

1. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a short opera about coffee obsession. 

In a time when coffee was still seen as a dangerous social vice, In 1762, the infamous Baroque composer and pianist, a coffee nut himself, turned an amusing poem by his frequent musical partner, Picander, into The Coffee Cantata. The cantata mocked public outcry about the rise of the Vienna coffeehouse scene.  

Coffee Cantata is about a young woman named Aria who loves coffee. Her killjoy father is, of course, dead set against his daughter having any kind of caffeinated fun. So he tries to ban her from the drink. Aria bitterly complains:

'Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I couldn’t, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriveled-up roast goat.

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!'

The copywriters at major coffee retailers couldn’t have written it any better. Eventually, daughter and father reconcile when he agrees to have a guaranteed three cups of coffee a day written into her marriage contract. Fantastic! 

 2. Frank Zappa - Not into hard drugs ....just coffee and cigarettes

In more recent times, composers still seem to rely heavily on a good cup of coffee to help get their creative juices flowing, with notable names like Frank Zappa being remembered for always having a cup of coffee on hand no matter where they found themselves. “I live my life smoking these things, and drinking the ‘black water’ in this cup here.” In this quote, it would seem that coffee and cigarettes were a normal function of life.

3. US Presidents


A number of world leaders have been serious coffee drinkers. It makes sense that caffeine would be the choice when making decisions of country, state or nation. 

The United States in particular is an example of a country whose leaders drink copious amounts of coffee. The President has been drinking coffee since the very beginning, with George Washington being a referenced coffee drinker. This was proven by his many orders of coffee bean during his life, including a huge 200 pounds of coffee he had imported in 1770. 

The list of U.S Presidents who drank coffee is a long one, (not all are icons but, hey, I digress!) including: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Senior and Junior, and Bill Clinton.

Theodore Roosevelt is remembered as taking coffee drinking to new extremes, apparently consuming as much as a gallon of coffee every single day! It was once said by his son, that his morning coffee mug was more like a bathtub than a normal coffee mug.

4. Louis XV

The reign of Louis XV is fondly remembered for giving rise to aristocratic fine dining and he went as far as to grow his own crop of coffee beans in greenhouses on the Versailles Palace grounds. He handpicked them, roasted them and ground them and derived the greatest pleasure from making a stately entrance with coffee pot in hand, ready to pour for his guests.

5. Margaret Attwood 

Even though she only has coffee for breakfast. Her favourite is an espresso shot, but sometimes she has coffee with steamed milk or cream (café Breve). She loves her coffee so much that she even lent her name to a coffee blend that was used to save Canada’s Pelee Island Bird Observatory. She was heard to say " I don't even glance at the herbal teas, I got straight for the real, vile coffee. Jitter in a cup. It cheers me up to know i'll soon be so tense"

6. Ludwig van Beethoven

It is rumoured that Beethoven drank coffee made with exactly 60 coffee beans – no more; no less. Also, he only drank coffee that he made himself. 

Although there is no evidence he drank a shed load of coffee, Beethoven’s biographer recalled the composer using a glass coffee maker to brew his morning tipple – and he didn’t start his day without it.

7. Napoleon Bonaparte


Napoleon Bonaparte asked for a spoonful of coffee while on his deathbed, and his autopsy revealed coffee grounds in his stomach. He is credited with the quote “I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.”

9. Elijah Wood 

How has Elijah Wood changed the world I hear you cry... well if you are anything like us, Lord Of The Rings DID change the world and while coffee is the drink of choice for most contemporary A-list celebrities, most love a simple latte to start their star-studded morning. Others, however, crave something more hardcore: Elijah Wood is said to start his days with a quadruple espresso over ice. Nice!

9. David Lynch

David Lynch 

The film director David Lynch believes that “even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all" In a blog he wrote he mentions that coffee was his aid to help  "to facilitate thinking and catching ideas." He also said "Maybe there’s not an idea in every bean, but for me there are many good ideas hiding in coffee." And that is why he is a Legend. 


10. Pope Clement VIII

Another famous coffee drinker was Pope Clement VIII who made great contribution to the coffee love among Christians by lifting a longstanding coffee ban. 

The Christians in Europe were told that coffee was evil and referred to it as “Satan’s drink”. But, there was a problem with coffee!  It tasted so goooooooood, and some thought that it also made you super healthy. 

The pope decided to do something about this coffee dilemma.  Why should the infidels have exclusive use of it, he thought, so he baptised coffee. Yep he did. What a dude!

It is often said that art imitates life, but coffee is the drink that fuels both.

I think  the great novelist Gertrude Stein said it best: “Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup."

Lets get brewing and be brilliant!