The Rise of Coffee in the American Continents
Coffee has been around for a long time. In fact, the first coffee plant was found in Ethiopia and it is believed to have been discovered somewhere between 2,000 BC and 3,000 BC. It didn't take long before the drink made its way over to Europe where it became very popular. The Dutch settlers were some of the first people to bring coffee into American continents but they did not make much progress until after the 1700s when demand for this beverage skyrocketed because of its popularity with these new colonists who had come from other European countries. Of course, today we know that there are many varieties of coffees out there because this industry has grown exponentially since then. Stick around and we'll give you some insight into some of our favorite coffee origin stories and how this magical plant spread to the Americas.
Let's start the journey in France. In the 1710s, the French royalty had secured their own coffee plants. The plant arrived in the Royal Botanical garden as a gift from the mayor of Amsterdam. In 1721, Captain Gabriel de Clieu of the French Navy was essential in transporting two coffee trees to Martinique. He sacrificed his own health and safety to ensure that one of the trees made the trip successfully, including severely dehydrating himself to ensure the tree had enough water to survive. It was a long journey, but he managed to keep the plant alive and had successful cultivation a few years later. This original French coffee plant is the ancestor of a majority of South American and Latin American coffees.
Depending on who tells the story either the French or the Dutch were the ones to bring coffee to the Americas, but Brazil secured their coffee crop from the French Guyanese. Brazil is now known for producing more coffee today than anywhere else in the world, thanks to Brazilian Colonel Francisco de Mello Palheta. The Colonel was sent to Guyana with an official mission, to settle the border dispute between the French and the Dutch. His true motivation was securing coffee! He had a difficult time but eventually succeeded by sweet-talking the French governers' wife to give him a few clippings. How did she do this? She gave him a bouquet of flowers with a few clippings hidden in the arrangement!
Similar in origin to Brazilian coffee, Mexican coffee was originally sourced from the Caribbean in the late 1700s. Coffee was only grown for local consumption, as agriculture took a back seat to the harvesting of minerals like gold and silver in the Mexican economy. It wasn't until the 1860s that coffee became a major export product and the land it grew on was infinitely valuable. At this time, a large majority of the land was bought up by white Europeans and the native locals were forced to work the land. The Mexican revolution and corresponding labor laws in the early 1900s freed these people and created incentives for natives to work for themselves. Now, over 50% of Mexican coffee is grown by small farmers in the south and a large number of those farmers are indigenous peoples.
The beauty of coffee migration is the distinct way the same plant can adapt to its environment and culture. The same plants that originated in France were brought to the Caribbean and then moved along again across the Americas. Each location now has a signature flavor, built from cultivated and natural factors. Curious to see the differences? Have a cup of Mexican Morning alongside a cup of Colombian Dreams. Both are grown in the Americas, but both have their own beautiful flavors.