Thursday, June 2, 2011

History of Coffee - The Caribbean 1720

The billions of coffee trees which now produce more than half of the world's coffee production on the slopes and hills of Latin America are almost all descendants of one lone tree. With reasonable certainty, we can trace their genealogy back to a vigorous, young coffee plant which the Burgomaster of Amsterdam sent to Louis XIV in Paris in 1714. The monarch sent the coffee tree to the Royal Botanist whom planted it in the royal medical Jardin des Plantes.

On the West Indian Island of Martinique, was a captain of infantry named Gabriel Mathiew Desclieux, serving France at this time. He learned about the new coffee plant and its wonderful beverage from Dutch sailors who boasted of how the beans flourished in Java. He sought and received a furlough and set out for Paris, determined not to return until he possessed seedlings to plant in Martinique's fertile earth.

In May of 1723, Desclieux took ship to return to Martinique with a coffee tree which he carried in a solid chest topped with glass so the plant could be warmed by the sun. He planted seedlings in his estate and they multiplied with extraordinary rapidity. By 1727, hundreds of pounds of coffee seeds had been distributed and cultivation began all over the Caribbean islands and the Andes Mountains of South America.

Within forty-five years coffee farms flourished in Martinique and all over the West Indies. Millions of pounds of beans were sent to the coffee houses in France. Thus, coffee came to the New World guided by a man of purpose and vision.

Yours most truly,

Mariano Ospina

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