A Reformation History of Coffee

A Reformation History of Coffee

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a document containing 95 thesis to the Wittenberg Castle church door. These thesis started a reformation and set free the Gospel.

Sadly, however, Luther was unable to enjoy a cup of coffee while writing his beautiful thesis or translating the Bible into German. The beverage did not arrive in Germany until 1670, only a short time after Luther’s lifetime. 

By the early 1700’s coffee houses throughout Germany began to emerge, serving up the new brew. In 1735 a German composer by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a Coffee Cantata for Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, Germany. 

J.S. Bach was a Lutheran composer and primarily wrote liturgical music for the church. However, from 1930-1940, Bach wrote pieces for a local ensemble of musicians called the Collegium Musicum. Bach’s works were often performed at Zimmerman’s coffee house while guests enjoyed their coffee and company. 

The Coffee Cantata follows the story of a young woman named Aria who cannot live without her coffee. A dispute arises between her and her father because of her love for the beverage. In the end, Aria's father allows her to enjoy her favorite brew, even going so far as having a written agreement in her marriage contract that she may enjoy her coffee three times a day. 

Although Luther was unable to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, he most certainly would have given his approval to the 1517 blend. In his explanation to the first article of the creed, Luther writes,

"He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life...All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true."

For the gift of coffee and all other gifts God freely gives us, we thank and praise Him.  

Party like it's 1517 and enjoy the gift that Bach wrote about—order the 1517 Reformation Roast! Coffee by Gillespie and 1517, the Legacy Project are celebrating the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation together with this special roast. 

"The coffee is rich and bold like Luther's confession and bright and sweet like the Gospel restored to the church. Enjoy one of the finest of First Article gifts, "my body, and soul, and all brewed things..." Coffee in the Wasteland: Everything's Gonna Brew Okay!"


Kathy Strauch is a graphic designer, writer, bookworm, printmaker, and coffee lover from Michigan. She is also contributor with Christ Hold Fast, Higher Things, and The Gospel Economist.

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1 comment

  • “J.S. Bach was a Lutheran composer and primarily wrote liturgical music for the church. However, from 1930-1940, Bach wrote pieces for a local ensemble of musicians called the Collegium Musicum.”
    You might want to check the dates. ?

    Michael Grooms

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