Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormons to open Starbucks locations inside LDS temples

CoffeeA special April 1 report

On Thursday news was leaked from the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the church has entered into a franchising agreement with the global powerhouse Starbucks, agreeing to incorporate Starbucks coffeehouses in ten LDS temples around the world.

Although no official announcement about the venture is expected at this weekend’s LDS General Conference, sources say construction is scheduled to begin immediately for Starbucks locations at the LDS temples in New York, Rome, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, São Paulo, Accra, Sydney, Salt Lake City, and Frankfurt.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, one prominent business leader reported off the record that if the arrangement proves lucrative for both parties, every single Mormon temple will have a Starbucks by the church’s 200th anniversary in 2030.

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for the Church,” he said. “Really, I’m just giddy. Or maybe that’s the caffeine talking.”

One potential sticking point is that no changes have yet been announced to the Word of Wisdom, the LDS dietary code that has been interpreted as prohibiting alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs—and coffee.

Although early Mormons drank coffee and included it in their list of must-have items for crossing the plains, for the last hundred years of the religion’s history, caffeinated coffee has been strictly forbidden.

Is it possible that Mormonism’s most sacred spaces will be permeated with the glorious scent of a drink that the faithful are not permitted to enjoy?

Or does the franchise agreement signal an eventual softening of the church’s no-coffee stance?

“I think this suggests major changes are coming,” said Brigham X. Allred, professor of Mormon history and culture at Zarahemla University. “There is a precedent for this. For years, the Church owned significant stock in soft drink companies. And then what did we see just a few years ago? A statement from the LDS Newsroom that caffeinated soft drinks are now officially kosher.

“I would expect that the Starbucks deal means that some kinds of coffee will eventually join that list of what is acceptable under the Word of Wisdom,” he continued. “How could they not? I mean, you’ll be able to smell the coffee brewing from where you sit in the Celestial Room. It’s a foretaste of what the Celestial Kingdom will be like.”

Rumor has it that in a nod to Mormon sensibilities, Starbucks marketers also taste-tested the potential menu addition of Postum, a hot beverage some Mormons have used as a coffee substitute, before spitting it unceremoniously to the ground.

“In our previous engagements with coffee all around the world we have never encountered this strange thing called ‘Postum,’” said a mystified representative of the company. “It will not be joining the menu and diluting the Starbucks brand.”

Still, other items have been added to appeal specifically to a Mormon audience, including Lion House rolls, Testamints, and an exciting new gift product: General Authority action figures.

“Their neckties will be interchangeable!” enthused product manager Libby Rall. “It’s a great idea for keeping the kids occupied while their parents are attending the temple.”

Also, in a decision that reflects the coffeehouse juggernaut’s deference to the religious traditions of its host, all Starbucks temple locations will be closed on Sundays.

“There are some lines that Mormons just won’t cross,” said Allred.


OTHER APRIL 1 NEWS STORIES:


Contributors to this story included P. Smith and A. Black.

 

 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

27 Comments

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  • Since I can’t even stand the smell of coffee, let alone the taste (yuck(, I’m glad today is April Fool’s Day.

  • What? No Starbucks in the Seattle temple, just a short hop from Starbucks headquarters? Preposterous!

  • I’m embarrassed to admit that it had me going until “testamints”. And I even posted an April Fools blog earlier today, so I have no excuse.

    Great April fools joke!

  • Cannot stop laughing !!! Some folks were not amused — oh well…. God has a sense of humor [think: aardvarks] or we wouldn’t have one. Great April Fools post!

  • I absolutely believed it. This comoletely consite t with the business behavior of the church. Then I remembered it was April fools. (City Creek much?)

  • They DO make great hot chocolate – found myself hoping it was true and they would just serve that — I could handle that!!!!

  • Not a coffee drinker, don’t plan on becoming a coffee/tea drinker but
    it seems rather ridiculous that we still have a prohibition against coffee and tea.
    Clearly, generally speaking, with alcohol and smoking, harm to individuals and society outweigh the potential benefits.

    But coffee and tea have few, if any risks. For example, coffee has been linked to lower incidence of colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Are there medical exceptions to church rules and still qualify for a temple recommend?

  • Good question. I know my grandmother (deceased before I was born) suffered from migraine headaches and her dr. advised her to drink coffee, which she did from time to time.

    I also wonder if tea/coffee drinking in some underdeveloped parts of the world might have other nutritional or health benefits.

  • This was great. It reminds me that Mormons must have been blessed to avoid the “anti-Christmas” Starbucks cups nonsense-versy of last December.

  • As a native of Mexico, I can tell you that sometimes bottled soft drinks are some of the safest forms of water available in small communities. Especially if there isn’t a lot of bottled water.

  • Well they used to prohibit darker skinned people from being in the priesthood or even being part of the church – and that has been changed! ….so I reckon the WOW will be altered too!

    Once a racist decaffeinated CULT organisation… now a “hey whatever feels good man” registered fake Christian church…. hell yeah, they be rolling with the times.

    That means baptisms may take 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes now….excellent! bzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZ

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