Caffeine Trivia 11.24.13

The history story of coffee continues: In 1720 a French naval officer named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, while on leave in Paris from his post in Martinique, acquired a coffee tree with the intention of taking it with him on the return voyage.  With the plant secured in a glass case on deck to keep it warm and prevent damage from salt water, the journey proved eventful.  As recorded in de Clieu’s own journal, the ship was threatened by Tunisian pirates. There was a violent storm, during which the plant had to be tied down.  A jealous fellow officer tried to sabotage the plant, resulting in a branch being torn off.  When the ship was becalmed and drinking water rationed, De Clieu ensured the plant’s survival by giving it most of his precious water.  Finally, the ship arrived in Martinique and the coffee tree was re-planted at Preebear.  It grew, and multiplied, and by 1726 the first harvest was ready.  It is recorded that, by 1777, there were between 18 and 19 million coffee trees on Martinique, and the model for a new cash crop that could be grown in the New World was in place.

Source: International Coffee Organization

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