The Seed to Cup Journey: Coffee’s Journey Around the World

Welcome back! I’m glad you’re here to learn more about the journey your coffee takes from seed to your cup! Last time, I talked about the origins of coffee. The monks, Kaldi, and his goats did us all a favor when they discovered these magic berries!

So, I’m still going to stick to a little bit of a history lesson this week. I’m going to tell you about the amazing journey that coffee plants took around the world!

From Humble Beginnings…

If you remember, coffee was discovered in either Ethiopia or Yemen sometime around 600 AD. By the 1400s coffee was extremely popular all over the Arabian Peninsula. European travelers fell in love with the mysterious dark beverage and wanted to bring seeds home with them to plant. However, the coffee monks on the Arabian Peninsula were extremely protective over their beverage and were sure to ferment and roast the beans so they could not be planted anywhere else. 

Eventually, they loosened their grip, and a traveling merchant was able to bring a seedling to New Amsterdam. Coffee had begun to sink its roots into the hearts and souls of exhausted Europeans. In the 1700s, a coffee seedling was presented to King Louis XIV of France. Coffee was planted and grown in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris.

…to a treacherous journey…

A few years after coffee was grown in the Royal Botanical Gardens it came into the hands of Gabriel de Clieu, a young naval officer who thought to himself “hey, let me bring this stuff with me across the ocean!” (I would love to see the diary entry that illustrates why he thought this was a good idea… but hey, it worked out!)

It is legitimately miraculous that this tiny plant survived this journey. A saboteur on the crew tried to destroy the plant (why, dude!?), the boat was met with historically bad weather, and they were even attacked by pirates on their journey! And somehow, this plant survived and made it all the way to Martinique where it was planted. Not only did this tiny plant somehow survive, once planted in Martinique it actually thrived! And thus began coffee growing in the Caribbean.

…and a tale of lust and deceit…

So now, the French are growing coffee all over their territories in the Caribbean. And they are all of the direct descent of that parent plant from Paris. And everyone wanted a piece of the action. the Portuguese really wanted to grow coffee in their territory, so they sent Francisco de Melo Palheta to “settle a land dispute.” I’m sure he did some diplomatic work, but his actual mission was to get coffee seeds. The French were extremely, extremely unwilling to share. So my main man Francisco tried a different tactic. He seduced the French Governor’s wife. And it worked, gangbusters! Before Franky headed back home, she presented her new lover with a bouquet of flowers. Hidden in the bouquet were enough coffee seeds to start a farm. This farm has since turned into the multi-billion dollar industry that is Brazillian Coffee. (Thanks, Francisco!)

Coffee has survived it all!

Coffee is now one of the most traded commodities around the world. People drink coffee every single day, and the specialty coffee industry is booming! We have access to coffee from a wide variety of regions with a wide variety of flavor profiles, and it’s all thanks to a few brave travelers who brought coffee to new growing regions (and one lusty wife…).

Check back next week to learn more about The Seed to Cup Journey!

Questions or Comments! Drop a line and let me know your thoughts!

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