Coffee, from Yemeni Sufism to American slavery

This time we will talk about American slavery.Of course, global history is concerned with long-distance trade, the spread of consumption across the globe, the production structures that can respond favorably to such demands, cash transfers vegetables from one continent to another … But if one were to choose a plant, a product of great consumption making it possible to paint an emblematic table of all these themes, coffee would without a doubt be the ideal candidate. Here is indeed a seed that has long remained confidential between Ethiopia and Yemen, first consumed in the Muslim world for religious reasons, and almost monopolistically marketed by the Ottoman Empire in the 16 thcentury, then picked up by some Dutch who transfer in Southeast Asia and Europe in the 17 th century by the French who introduced it in Latin America and 18 th . On the New Continent, it is now produced in particularly harsh slavery structures in Haiti and Brazil, before finally emerging as the symbol of North American emancipation from Great Britain or as the pretext for the first revolutionary debates in Europe … To make the history of coffee is to touch on the essential fields of study of global history and thus propose a direct and concrete introduction to the latter.

Legend [Jacob, 1999] is the 6 th century, Ethiopia, a modest shepherd had discovered the stimulating power of these red berries and the leaves bright green observing the excitement of his goats who had accidentally grazed them. Noting that they had not been poisoned on the morrow, on the contrary, he had to try it himself, and then, astonished by the result, spread the use of it. At that time, the Ethiopians chewed grains and leaves or baked them, or even mixed the ground grains with animal fat, when they did not drink the qishr, a drink made from the superficially burned raw berries. It would be only the 15 ththe grains extracted from their shells were regularly roasted and ground to give, by an infusion process, the drink we know today [Pendergrast, 2002, p. 27].

American slavery

It is probably also from the beginning that, having invaded Yemen, the Ethiopians began to cultivate more massive coffee there, especially around the city of Moka. The Arab populations soon became accustomed to consume it, especially the Sufi religious who praised its virtues to stimulate the night prayer and the day before. And who probably gave it its definitive name of k’hawah, which means “wine” (Chanda, 2010, p. 114] … In the 15 th century, the consumption of coffee as an infusion was common in places intended for this function, kaveh kanes.And if the high Muslim clergy did not much appreciate this drink, which led men to talk among themselves, far from their wives, the various attempts to ban public coffers or the drink itself did not succeed in moderating its use.

It was the Ottomans who had to multiply their consumption. After their conquest of Yemen in 1536, they create a monopoly for export, first throughout the empire, and then, 17 thcentury, towards Europe and Russia. To do this they control any seed exit (except already roasted) or plant. It was the Italians who were going to be the first big buyers in the West, especially from Venice, whose merchants were going to Alexandria. At that time the coffee, exclusively produced around Moka, is very expensive because of its rarefied offer. There is a testimony to this in the adventure of Jean de la Roque, a French merchant who, in 1708, wanted to buy coffee directly from Yemen, only brutally increased prices by his excessive demands, attracting the thunderbolts of the Turkish sovereign. Is that French consumption of the drink had made significant progress in the last third of the 17 thcentury, following the arrival, in 1669, of a new Turkish ambassador in Paris, who was to make the nobility taste there and attract the favors of the ladies (Chanda, 2010, p. 117-118]. Twenty years later, the cafe Procope opened up to the French Comedy and set up the beverage in the capital. In England, coffee houses quickly became places of speculation (intellectual or financial), linked to the stock market or to the first insurance companies like Lloyd’s which started in the coffee shop of the same name. In Austria, after the Ottomans’ missed siege against Vienna in 1683, the Turkish army’s coffee remains were to be served as an exotic drink, which was also abundantly sweetened and mixed with milk: the cappucinowas born, apparently in homage to the Italian Capuchin monk who had promoted the operation …

American slavery

Their consumption having dramatically progressed, it became inevitable that the Europeans ask themselves the question of breaking the monopoly of Ottoman production, from a Yemenite territory too small to allow a satisfactory offer. The precursor in seed transfer was perhaps a Muslim pilgrim who acclimated coffee in southern India. But those are the Dutch, who were the more determined: in 1616, they reported a coffee plant in Holland, are his offspring thrive on Ceylon in 1658 and the turn of the 18 thcentury, initiate a massive culture in Sumatra and the neighboring islands. In 1714 they made a gift to the Sun King of a plant which the latter preserves at first as a botanical curiosity. But, as early as 1723, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu introduced a coffee tree in Martinique, from where coffee was transplanted to Guyana. It is there that the Brazilians recover it, apparently with the complicity of the wife of the French governor, sensitive to the charm of a Brazilian diplomat who came to help the Dutch and French Guyana to settle a border conflict [Pendergrast, 2002, p.38] . The coffee had just found its land of choice …

In Latin America, however, coffee began to be timidly conquered. And the element that triggered the rise was undoubtedly … North American. We know that the Boston Tea Partyof 1773 had led the Americans to refuse compulsory imports from Great Britain, which were accompanied by heavy taxes or hindered the economic interests of the settlers. The symbolic refusal of tea may have led to a higher consumption of coffee. But the real reason for this growth is probably more prosaic [Pomeranz and Topik, 1999, p. 92]. The coffee then began to be cultivated in Haiti by small farmers, not very endowed with capital and anxious to feed the local demand of the settlers. The American ships which supplied Santo Domingo with food products to feed the slaves, in exchange for rum and sugar, saw their interest in buying this coffee and in helping the producers. As early as 1790,

American slavery

When the revolt of Toussaint-Louverture broke the Haitian coffee production in the 1790s, it became imperative to find another supplier. It was Brazil, from 1809, in a rather particular dynamic since this country lacked then slaves. The North American ships consequently engaged in apparently fruitful slave trade until, in the middle of the century, they supplied half of the supplies. Faced with a growing world demand for coffee in the 1830s, Brazil was going to massively expand its production and again allow citizens of the United States and the world to consume their favorite bitter drink at lower prices. was that the beginning of a long process:

Global History