The origins of European coffee
Although at the beginning Venetian merchants indeed held the monopoly of coffee trade around Europe, it was the Dutch who succeeded in extricating actual seeds from Arab territories during the 17th century. The Dutch were also the first to produce coffee outside Arab countries by first planting seeds in their colonies in Indonesia.
In France, coffee was known due to a tragic mistake made by the mayor of Amsterdam. In 1714, Gerrit Hooft donated to Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King of France, a small coffee tree which, as an act of defiance, he thought would never survive and thrive in the cold Paris winters.
For almost 14 years, the palace acolytes were striving to nurture the tree with all their efforts going in vain. Until, one day, an army officer came up with the idea of transferring the tree in Martinika, a French colony where the climate is tropical. In only five years, France was self-sufficient in coffee, the price of which declined rapidly throughout the whole world.
Crossing the Atlantic
In the same century and after coffee was already spread in the rest of Europe, its fame inevitably reached the New World, i.e. America. European colonizers of the American continent used to drink tea, a custom long revered in the Old World.
However, in 1773, when the English King George III inflicted heavy taxes on the colonists, Americans felt patriotically obliged to defy his ruling and in a fateful twist took to boycotting tea and turned to coffee as an alternative. This heavy taxation was seen by many as a way for the parliamentarians in England to extract money from the colonists in order to fund their various war efforts. The ultimate expression of that defiance came on December 16th 1773 when a group of people disguised as native Americans destroyed an entire shipment of the East India Company's tea in Griffins Wharf. This act would later become known as the Boston Tea Party and is widely accepted as the symbolic starting point of the American Revolution.
The rest of the story
We hope you're enjoying our brief history of coffee series and would love to hear your comments below! If you haven't already done so, brew yourself a cup and go through the older entries to find out some fascinating facts on the story of coffee.
Join us again on our blog for the final part of the story of coffee and to find out more about how coffee is connected to the Boston Tea Party. On our next entry we look at coffee from discovery to what we know and love today. You can subscribe to our blog below!