Space may be the depths for which the phrase was coined, but for the coffee world, a cafe space at Brigham Young University may be the actual final frontier. The Provo, Utah private college is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—also known as the Mormon Church—who have pretty strict rules about coffee consumption: in short, you can’t (soda is totally fine somehow). So when Starbucks announced plans to open a stand-alone coffee shop near BYU, the LDS responded by putting out a guide on tips to avoid getting sucked into coffee’s dark orbit.
Starbucks' rapid expansion has long been the stuff of lols, but this reaches new level of thirst. Provo is a city where, as of a 2010 census, 89% of the population aren’t allowed to consume the company’s main offering. This is uncharted territory, and in response, according to The Guardian, the church has issued “official guidance” on how to navigate any coffee-adjacent situations the youths may find themselves in. Released as part of the August issue of a magazine directed at the LDS youth, the church offers some (frankly good) advice that “the word coffee isn’t always in the name of coffee drinks” and that “drinks with names that include cafe or caffe, mocha, latte, espresso, or anything ending in -ccino usually have coffee in them.”
So, before you try what you think is just some new milkshake flavor, here are a couple of rules of thumb: one, if you’re in a coffee shop (or any other shop that’s well-known for its coffee), the drink you’re ordering probably has coffee in it, so either never buy drinks at coffee shops or always ask if there’s coffee in it.
Now, I may not agree with the Mormon Church’s stance on coffee (and about a million other things), but if they are the moral compass you’ve chosen to direct your life, then good on you. I wouldn’t want you to inadvertently do something against your guiding principles, so I’m all for these tips. I mean, how the heck is anyone supposed to know that there is coffee in something called a “pour-over” or a “macchiato”?
But the magazine's guidance may be more than just some friendly tips. As The Guardian notes, “a 2016 survey found that four in 10 active church members under age 51 had drunk coffee during the previous six months.” The guidance may be more of a “we see what you are doing, you rebellious youths.”
Despite efforts to modernize some of the church's rules, coffee remains off the table. (Hey, at least there may be a little cannabis in your future.) And for what it's worth, if you're a coffee-curious BYU student looking to experiment, Salt Lake City's excellent indie coffee scene is just an hour away.