After the spread of coffee throughout the entire European continent, coffee arrived in the both North and South Americas. It was French naval officer, Gabriel de Clieu who brought coffee seedlings over to the Americas, specifically to the Caribbean’s Martinique island. 50 years later, the plants flourished, resulting in additional islands in the Caribbean, like Saint-Domingue, Haiti and Mexico cultivating beans.
Coffee cultivation in Saint-Domingue — now known as Haiti —grew so large that by 1788, it composed over half of the global coffee industry. The French were utilizing slave labor in coffee production. Eventually, those slaves and free people on the island were able to overthrow colonial rule in 1804, and establish a free country known as Haiti. The Haitian coffee industry never fully recovered following the Haitian Revolution.
Coffee in Brazil actually traces its origins to Africa. Towards the east of Madagascar island lies the Isle of Bourbon, a French island and region now known as Réunion. The coffee beans grown there were smaller, but still high quality. Brazil’s Santos coffee and Mexico’s Oaxaca coffee originates from the Isle of Bourbon. Though the Brazilians grew coffee around 1727, its industry did not fully boom until 1822, after the country gained independence. By 1852, it had become the world’s largest producer of coffee.
Guatemala had a similar issue to Haiti. Lacking the manpower to produce their coffee, the Guatemalan government forced the country’s indigenous people to work in the fields harvesting coffee beans. This led to expected high tensions between the Guatemalan government and the people that are still palpable today.
North Americans Switch to Coffee
Throughout North America’s colonial era, most American were tea drinkers, as a result of their British roots. However, as the American desire for independence grew, Americans turned their backs on tea, a movement most notably remembered as the Boston Tea Party. This might be remembered as the beginning of the United States’ love for coffee. Today, the United States consumes an average of 400 million cups of coffee per day.
The next time you pay us a visit and choose one of our international coffees, consider where that coffee came from. There were many customs and battles that brought the coffee to you.