History of Coffee

History of Coffee

The New World

In the mid-1600s, the British brought coffee to New Amsterdam, later called New York.

Though coffee houses rapidly began to appear, tea continued to be the favored drink in the New World until 1773, when the colonists revolted against a heavy tax on tea imposed by King George III. The revolt, known as the Boston Tea Party, would forever change the American drinking preference for coffee. 

"Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world." - Thomas Jefferson

Plantations Around the World

As demand for the beverage continued to spread, there was fierce competition to cultivate coffee outside of Arabia. 

The Dutch finally got seedlings in the latter half of the 17th century. Their first attempts to plant them in India failed, but they were successful with their efforts in Batavia, on Java island, in Indonesia.  

The plants thrived, and soon, the Dutch had a productive and growing trade in coffee. They then expanded the cultivation of coffee trees to the islands of Sumatra and Celebes.

Coming to the Americas

In 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented a gift of a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France. The King ordered it to be planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. In 1723, a young naval officer, Gabriel de Clieu, obtained a seedling from the King's plant. Despite a challenging voyage — complete with horrendous weather, a saboteur who tried to destroy the seedling, and a pirate attack — he transported it safely to Martinique.  

Once planted, the seedling thrived and is credited with the spread of over 18 million coffee trees on the island of Martinique in the next 50 years. Even more incredible is that this seedling was the parent of all coffee trees throughout the Caribbean, South, and Central America.

The famed Brazilian coffee belongs to Francisco de Mello Palheta, who the emperor sent to French Guiana to get coffee seedlings. Naturally, the French were not willing to share. Still, the French Governor's wife, captivated by his good looks, gave him a large bouquet before he left— buried inside were enough coffee seeds to begin what is today a billion-dollar industry.

Missionaries, travelers, traders, and colonists continued to carry coffee seeds to new lands, and coffee trees were planted worldwide. Plantations were established in magnificent tropical forests and on rugged mountain highlands. Some crops flourished, while others were short-lived. New nations were based on coffee economies. Fortunes were made and lost. By the end of the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world's most profitable export crops. After crude oil, coffee is the most sought commodity in the world.


NCAUSA.com. (2022). The History of Coffee.  

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.