[Sca-cooks] Questions on coffee

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Wed Jan 27 20:46:48 PST 2010

> I still maintain my beliefs and theories that the Vikings did drink 
> coffee, knew Martials Arts and were educated.
> AElina the Saami

While I have no opinion about the Viking education or martial arts, I am 
fairly certain that they didn't drink coffee.

Coffee as a beverage is documentable to about 1450.  I can make a 
circumstantial case for limited use as early as 1245.  Anything prior to 
that is speculation running to fantasy.

The Varangian Guard was major Viking force in the 10th and 11th Centuries, 
but it existed as a more general mercenary force into the mid-14th Century. 
According to your theory, coffee would have flowed north from Arabia to 
Constantinople then to the Rus and on to Scandinavia.  Coffee is a luxury 
good.  It would have been taxed.  There are no records of it being taxed or 
even existing in Constantinople before the 16th Century.  As the Varangian 
period crosses into the Crusades, if coffee were a luxury good into 
Constantinople, it should have also been a luxury good into the kingdoms of 
Outremere.  There is no account of coffee or record of it being imported 
into the Christian Levant.  This suggests to me that Viking coffee is 

Now I will admit that abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence, but 
given the other facts available, it is a pretty safe bet that there wasn't 
any coffee drinking in Byzantine Constantinople.

For myself, I'll add your theory to the coffee theories about the black 
broth of the Lacedaemonions, Esau's pottage and the nepenthe of the 
Incomparable Helen.


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