Uncovering the Truth: Did Voltaire Really Drink 40 to 50 Cups of Coffee a Day?

If you’re a coffee lover, you might have heard the story of Voltaire, the famous French writer and philosopher who allegedly drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day. But did he really consume that much caffeine? The answer is not entirely clear, as there are different versions of the story, and not all of them agree on the exact number of cups. However, there is some evidence that suggests Voltaire was indeed a heavy coffee drinker.

One of the most famous accounts of Voltaire’s coffee habit comes from a letter he wrote to a friend in 1733, in which he described his daily routine. According to this letter, Voltaire would wake up at 6 a.m. and drink coffee while he worked for several hours. He would then have breakfast around 11 a.m., followed by more coffee. He would continue working until 6 p.m., when he would have dinner and more coffee. Finally, he would work until 2 a.m. with the help of yet another cup of coffee. This schedule would suggest that Voltaire consumed at least 10 cups of coffee a day, and possibly more.

Other sources, however, suggest that Voltaire’s coffee intake was even higher. For example, a biography of Voltaire written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (under the pen name of S.G. Tallentyre) claims that he drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day. This number has been repeated in many articles and books, but it is not clear where Hall got this information from. Some historians have suggested that it might be an exaggeration or a misunderstanding of Voltaire’s actual habits. Nonetheless, the idea of Voltaire as a coffee addict has become a popular legend, and his name is often associated with the drink.

Who Was Voltaire?

Voltaire was an influential French writer, philosopher, and satirist of the Enlightenment period. Born François-Marie Arouet in 1694, he adopted the pen name Voltaire in 1718 after being imprisoned in the Bastille for 11 months. Voltaire’s works often criticized the French monarchy, the Catholic Church, and other institutions of his time. His ideas on freedom of speech, religion, and separation of church and state continue to influence modern Western thought.

His Influence on Enlightenment Philosophy

Voltaire’s works, including his famous novella “Candide,” were known for their wit, satire, and criticism of the status quo. He was a proponent of rationalism and believed that reason and science should be used to understand the world. Voltaire’s ideas on freedom of speech and religion were influential in the development of the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

His Daily Routine

Voltaire was known for his rigorous daily routine, which included writing, reading, and socializing. According to some sources, he drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day. While this claim is debated, there is no doubt that Voltaire was a prolific writer and thinker who produced a large body of work during his lifetime.

In addition to his writing, Voltaire was also involved in various social and political causes. He advocated for religious tolerance and spoke out against injustice and oppression. Despite facing censorship and persecution during his lifetime, Voltaire’s ideas and writings continue to be studied and celebrated today.

The Coffee Drinking Habits of the 18th Century

In the 18th century, coffee became a popular drink among the French people. It was not only a beverage but also a cultural phenomenon. Cafes became a place where people gathered to discuss politics, philosophy, and literature. It was a place where the intellectuals of the time could meet and exchange ideas.

One of the most notable French intellectuals of the 18th century was Voltaire. He was a writer, philosopher, and historian who was known for his wit and intelligence. According to some sources, Voltaire drank between 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day. While this may seem like an exaggeration, it is clear that he was a coffee enthusiast.

A cafe in Paris

Coffee was not only a drink but also a symbol of status. Wealthy people would often have coffee served in silver or gold cups. The coffee itself was often mixed with other ingredients such as chocolate or sugar. The coffee was also roasted differently depending on the region it came from. For example, coffee from Arabia was roasted darker than coffee from Africa.

Despite its popularity, coffee was not without controversy. Some people believed that it was a dangerous and addictive substance. Others believed that it had health benefits such as improving digestion and curing headaches. The debate over the benefits and drawbacks of coffee continued throughout the 18th century.

In conclusion, coffee was a cultural phenomenon in the 18th century. It was a drink that was enjoyed by people of all social classes. While some people believed that it was dangerous, others believed that it had health benefits. Voltaire was one of the most notable coffee enthusiasts of the time, and his love for the drink is still talked about today.

Voltaire’s Coffee Consumption

Voltaire, the famous French writer and philosopher, is rumored to have consumed an extraordinary amount of coffee each day. While some sources claim he drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day, others suggest that this number may have been exaggerated. In this section, we will explore primary sources and modern interpretations of Voltaire’s coffee consumption.

Primary Sources

There are several primary sources that suggest Voltaire was a coffee enthusiast. One such source is a letter written by Voltaire himself in 1730, in which he praises the virtues of coffee. He wrote, “I have been drinking coffee for sixty-five years and have reached the point of drinking it every day. I have tried to give it up, but I cannot. It is my tonic, my comfort, and my heart’s delight.”

Another primary source is a letter written by Voltaire’s friend, the French writer Madame du Deffand. In the letter, she describes a visit to Voltaire’s home, where she witnessed him drinking coffee throughout the day. She wrote, “He drinks coffee all day long, and it seems to have no effect on him. He is always alert and full of energy.”

Modern Interpretations

While primary sources suggest that Voltaire was indeed a coffee enthusiast, modern interpretations of his coffee consumption are more cautious. Some historians argue that the number of cups of coffee he consumed each day was likely exaggerated. They point out that coffee in the 18th century was much weaker than it is today, and that the cups used to drink coffee were much smaller.

Others argue that even if Voltaire did drink 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day, it may not have been as harmful to his health as it would be today. They point out that coffee was seen as a medicinal drink in the 18th century and was believed to have many health benefits.

In conclusion, while it is difficult to determine exactly how much coffee Voltaire consumed each day, primary sources suggest that he was a coffee enthusiast. Modern interpretations of his coffee consumption are more cautious, but it is clear that coffee played an important role in his life and work.

Health Implications of Voltaire’s Coffee Intake

You may be wondering what kind of health implications Voltaire’s coffee intake had. While it’s true that coffee has many benefits, excessive consumption can also have negative effects on your health. Here are a few potential consequences of drinking 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day, like Voltaire did.


Drinking excessive amounts of coffee can lead to dehydration. This is because coffee is a diuretic, which means it causes you to urinate more frequently. If you’re not drinking enough water to compensate for the fluids you’re losing, you could become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.


Another potential side effect of consuming large amounts of coffee is insomnia. Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you’re drinking 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day, you’re likely consuming a lot of caffeine, which could make it difficult for you to get a good night’s rest.

Digestive Issues

Drinking too much coffee can also cause digestive issues. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, and consuming large amounts of it can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems. Additionally, coffee can increase the production of stomach acid, which can exacerbate acid reflux and heartburn.

While Voltaire’s coffee intake may have been extreme, it’s important to remember that moderation is key when it comes to consuming caffeine. If you’re a coffee lover, try to limit your intake to a few cups a day and make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Coffee in Voltaire’s Writings

If you’re familiar with Voltaire’s works, you might have noticed that coffee is mentioned quite frequently. In fact, coffee is mentioned in over 20 of his works, including his most famous book, “Candide.”

Candide (AmazonClassics Edition)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Voltaire (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 122 Pages - 07/25/2017 (Publication Date) - AmazonClassics (Publisher)

Voltaire’s love for coffee is evident in his writings, as he often refers to it as a “divine drink” and a “miracle of the modern age.” He even wrote a poem dedicated to coffee, titled “La Henriade,” in which he praises the drink for its ability to stimulate the mind and improve one’s mood.

One of Voltaire’s most famous quotes about coffee is, “I have drunk coffee and I shall die.” While this quote is often misinterpreted as a warning against the dangers of coffee, it was actually meant to be a humorous remark about his love for the drink.

In addition to his writings, Voltaire was also known to drink copious amounts of coffee on a daily basis. While it’s unclear whether he actually drank 40 to 50 cups a day, as some sources claim, it’s clear that he was a coffee enthusiast who appreciated the drink’s stimulating effects.

Overall, coffee played a significant role in Voltaire’s life and works, and his love for the drink has become a part of his legacy.


Now that you have explored the various sources on Voltaire’s coffee consumption, you may be wondering if he really drank 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day. While there is no concrete evidence to confirm or deny this claim, it is clear that Voltaire was a coffee enthusiast and consumed a significant amount of coffee throughout his life.

From historical accounts and anecdotes, it seems likely that Voltaire did consume a large amount of coffee each day. However, it is important to note that excessive coffee consumption can have negative health effects, and moderation is key.

Regardless of the exact number of cups he drank, Voltaire’s love for coffee is a testament to the drink’s enduring popularity and cultural significance. Coffee has played a prominent role in the lives of many notable figures throughout history and continues to be a beloved beverage around the world.

In conclusion, while we may never know for sure how much coffee Voltaire actually consumed, his legacy as a coffee lover lives on. So go ahead and enjoy your own cup of coffee, but remember to drink in moderation for the sake of your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was Voltaire’s coffee recipe?

Unfortunately, there is no record of Voltaire’s coffee recipe. However, during his time, coffee was typically prepared by boiling water and adding ground coffee beans to create a strong brew. Sugar and milk were sometimes added to taste.

How much coffee did Voltaire drink daily?

According to various historical accounts, Voltaire was known to drink between 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day. However, it’s important to note that the size of the cups during his time were likely smaller than modern-day cups.

How did Voltaire’s coffee addiction affect his health?

While there is no concrete evidence linking Voltaire’s coffee addiction to any specific health issues, excessive caffeine intake can lead to a variety of negative effects, including insomnia, anxiety, and heart palpitations. It’s possible that Voltaire experienced some of these symptoms due to his high coffee consumption.

How old was Voltaire when he died?

Voltaire died on May 30, 1778, at the age of 83.

Did Voltaire really drink 40 cups of coffee a day?

Yes, according to historical accounts, Voltaire was known to drink between 40 to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Who else has been known to drink large amounts of coffee?

Voltaire is not the only historical figure known for consuming large amounts of coffee. Other notable figures include Johann Sebastian Bach, who reportedly wrote a coffee cantata, and Balzac, who was known to consume up to 50 cups of coffee a day.

RELATED: 25 Authors who Love Coffee