Source:Revelations in Context:Word of Wisdom:The Word of Wisdom rejected the idea of a substitute for alcohol. “Hot drinks”

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Revelations in Context: "The Word of Wisdom rejected the idea of a substitute for alcohol. “Hot drinks”"

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American temperance reformers succeeded in the 1830s in no small part by identifying a substitute for alcohol: coffee. In the eighteenth century, coffee was considered a luxury item, and British-manufactured tea was much preferred. After the Revolution, tea drinking came to be seen as unpatriotic and largely fell out of favor. The way was open for a rival stimulant to emerge. In 1830, reformers persuaded the U.S. Congress to remove the import duty on coffee. The strategy worked. Coffee fell to 10 cents a pound, making a cup of coffee the same price as a cup of whiskey, marking whiskey’s decline. By 1833, coffee had entered “largely into the daily consumption of almost every family, rich and poor.” The Baltimore American called it “among the necessaries of life.” [17] Although coffee enjoyed wide approval by the mid-1830s, including within the medical community, a few radical reformers such as Sylvester Graham and William A. Alcott preached against the use of any stimulants whatsoever, including coffee and tea. [18]
The Word of Wisdom rejected the idea of a substitute for alcohol. “Hot drinks”—which Latter-day Saints understood to mean coffee and tea19—“are not for the body, or belly,” the revelation explained (see D&C 89:9). [20] Instead, the revelation encouraged the consumption of basic staples of the kind that had sustained life for millennia. The revelation praised “all wholesome herbs.” “All grain is ordained for the use of man and beasts, to be the staff of life … as also the fruit of the vine, that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground, or above the ground.” In keeping with an earlier revelation endorsing the eating of meat, the Word of Wisdom reminded the Saints that the flesh of beasts and fowls were given “for the use of man, with thanksgiving,” but added the caution that meat was “to be used spareingly” and not to excess (see D&C 89:10-12).[1]


  1. "Word of Wisdom: D&C 89," Revelations in Context (11 June 2013)