A Brief History of Coffee in the Caribbean
Believing the Caribbean would be an idea environment for growing coffee, French Naval Officer, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu requested a clipping of King Louis XIV’s Royal coffee plant. Denied but not deterred, he smuggled a clipping, which survived despite a jealous passenger’s attempt to wrest it from de Clieu, an encounter with Tunisian pirates, a violent storm, and a severe water shortage while the ship was becalmed in the doldrums. De Clieu wrote: ‘Water was lacking to such an extent that for more than a month, I was obligated to share my scanty ration with the plant upon which my happiest hopes were founded and which was the source of my delight.’
The first coffee plant arrived in Martinique in 1723. Within 50 years coffee plants spread to the far reaches of the Caribbean and numbered into the tens of millions. Today over 25 million family farms in some 80 countries grow an estimated 15 billion coffee trees. Their product ends up in 2.25 billion cups of coffee that are consumed each day.