LivingKing Gustaf III and his experiments with coffee

King Gustaf III and his experiments with coffee

One of the most curious medical experiments has been the one carried out by King Gustavo III to demonstrate that coffee was harmful to public health . A king remembered in his country mainly for ending freedom in Sweden, promoting knowledge and culture and waging war on coffee.

King Gustaf III’s coffee experiment

The king wanted to prove that coffee was toxic to the body, so he set out to conduct an experiment to study the effects of coffee on health.

To carry out the experiment, he ordered that the decision to sentence two identical twins to death be changed to life imprisonment if they agreed to participate in his experiment.

One twin was to drink three cups of coffee daily and the other the same amount of tea , both until the day they died. The twins accepted and underwent the experiment until the end of their days.

To control the experiment, two doctors were assigned to monitor the health of the twins and inform the king about the results.

The experiment ended in total failure , as King Gustaf III wanted to prove that coffee was harmful to health and was unable to do so. First the doctors died, then the king himself died, then the imprisoned twin who drank tea, and finally the imprisoned twin sentenced to drink coffee.

The history of coffee in Sweden

Coffee arrived in Sweden in 1674, long before Gustaf III came to the throne. In the 18th century, coffee became a popular drink among the wealthy classes in Sweden to such an extent that in 1746 a decree against coffee and tea consumers was ordered to tax the wealthiest people who drink coffee .

Taxes on coffee and tea were raised with high penalties for non-payment. Given that this decree was not successful, its consumption was totally prohibited , although they did not really manage to eliminate it from the lives of the Swedes.

In 1771 Gustavo III came to power who believed that coffee shortened the life of those who consumed it, so he was determined not to drink it and have his country condemn him. This is how he carried out the famous experiment with the twins, from which he could never conclude that coffee was harmful to health since he died in 1792, before his experiment concluded.

In 1794, two years after the death of King Gustaf III , the government tried to ban coffee again , but again without success. Coffee was already part of the culture of Sweden.

Today Sweden is among the 10 countries with the highest consumption of coffee per person, it is not just another drink, but it is related to the happiness of each of its inhabitants. The word “fika” is part of their culture and probably one of their productivity secrets, which means a coffee break with cookies and sharing with colleagues and family.

And they don’t do the fika once, but several times a day.


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