We looked on our previous post how France through its colonies, also introduced coffee to America. The French began cultivating coffee plants in the Caribbean and soon they were followed by the Spanish in Central America and the Portuguese in Brazil.

Coffee in the United States of America coincides with the country’s struggle for Independence when after a tax hike, set by the English in 1773, outraged citizens of Boston disguised themselves as native Americans and threw huge bundles of tea in the sea.

It is said that thousands of Americans took part in this ultimate act of defiance with some sources putting the protestors to 7000 at the time when the first East India Company ships, full of loose leaf tea crates arrived in Boston. It is known however that only about 200 men disguised as native Americans, were the ones who sabotaged the actual shipment, after the collector of customs earlier in the day had insisted on tea taxes being paid. A little misunderstood fact is that the tax hike was not on the tea itself! The East India Company was effectively making savings on tea tax shipped to America and the British were taxing the colonists by hiking other dues. 

the Beaver, the Eleanor and the Dartmouth, the three ships involved in the Boston Tea Party, were mostly owned by American colonists.

Aside from the popular folklore however, another known fact is that the Beaver, the Eleanor and the Dartmouth, the three ships involved in this affair, were mostly owned by American colonists. It was the tea itself that belonged to the East India Company. It may also surprise you to learn that not all Americans were in favour of this act. In fact, George Washington wrote in June 1774 to George W.Fairfax and where he made it clear that "Americans will never be taxed without their will" he also wrote that he did not approve of the destroying of the Tea! It was perhaps not the act of destroying the tea itself but rather the response of the British Government to this incident, which coupled with a nations desire to find its own voice and standing in the world ultimately led to the United States of America declaring its Independence on the 4th of July 1776.

Although some people say that one of the reasons Americans took to coffee was down to the price, since South American climate made growing coffee very abundant, we like to believe that America turned to coffee as an alternative to tea as a direct result of the events in 1773. What is universally agreed is that Americans took to coffee like no other nation on earth, gradually making it the most popular beverage in the country, and were involved with both cultivation and horticultural development of the plant ever since. The all American love affair with coffee didn't stop there though. From diners to coffee bars up and down the country, the enduring legacy of the Boston Tea Party remains not just in the freedom we enjoy today but also in our favourite morning beverage. 

Around the same time, as the events in Boston, all major European countries were planting coffee trees in places of the world where the climate was tropical and the ground fertile. The Dutch introduced the plant in Suriname, French Guinea, Indonesia, and Ghana. The French in Antilles, Martinique, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Ivory Coast, Angola, and São Tomé and the Spanish in Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Philippines, the British in Ceylon, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Tanganyika, and Uganda.

A modern Hanseatic replica vessel

Other nations chose Africa for their coffee plantations. The Italians in Eritrea, the Belgians in Congo, and finally the Germans in Cameroon and the New Guinea highlands. By the end of the 18th Century, coffee had acquired the significant role it plays today in the Global Economy, since for many villages, towns, and even countries its cultivation and exportation had already become one of the main sources of income. Ironically, six centuries of wandering resulted in coffee plantations in Kenya and Tanzania, which adjoin with the country where coffee was discovered – Ethiopia. 

 A South American coffee plantation

A South American coffee plantation

The ideal soil for the cultivation of coffee was found in Brazil. Thanks to the country’s tropical climate and vast arable lands, Brazil holds the largest portion of coffee production in the world. The renowned Brazilian coffee came off as a result of the military diplomat’s Francisco de Mello Palheta’s attempts, who was sent to Guinea by the King of Brazil in order to resolve a conflict between the two countries. Even though this was the official cause of Palheta’s trip, his mission was in fact to obtain seeds of coffee; buy them from the French colonizers and bring them back to his country. Initially, the French refused to sell their seeds in order to protect their monopoly. However, Palheta achieved his goal thanks to his overwhelming charm. Τhe French governor’s wife, who fell in love with Palheta, secretly granted him the so-desired seeds as a sacrifice for her lover. She hid them in a farewell flower bouquet, changing the history of coffee forever. 

The final word

With this chapter ends our brief history of the origins of coffee and how it spread throughout the world. We hope you have enjoyed these pages as much as we enjoyed writing them and perhaps as Pahleta's love struck partner you will consider your own love of the worlds most popular beverage.

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On our next blog series we will be looking at interesting coffee places and some of the culture around sharing our favourite drink. To find out when the series is released reach out to us on social using the hashtag #whatsinyourcup