From the lens of Sebah & Joaillier
A Turkish coffeehouse, 1885
Coffee Reaches the Latins
In 1714, Holland gave the French government a healthy coffee plant and nine years later an ambitious French sailor named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu brought coffee production to the French colony of Martinique. He procured one plant from those cultivated from Dutch beans in the Jardin des Plantes of Paris after engaging in an inordinate degree of flattery and maneuvering, saying that in the course of the dangerous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean he would constantly watch over the delicate plant. After being caught by pirates and escaping and surviving a great storm, his ship was held back a full month trying to move forward in still waters and no wind. The French soldier had protected his beloved plant from an envious passenger and shared his own limited water supply with it. In the end after being planted in Martinique, it did grow. Indeed, the dependence on coffee in most of today’s world may well stem from this single plant.
Later, in 1727, a mini drama rendered the destiny of coffee’s entry into Brazil. In order to resolve a dispute at the border, administrators of French Guayana and Dutch Guayana wanted a Portuguese Brazilian authorized agent named Francisco de Melho Palhetato to arbitrate as a neutral party. Hoping that he could somehow smuggle in some of the coffee beans, he immediately accepted because the two administrators also did not permit the beans to be exported. The agent resolved the border problem in an aimiable way and then secretly came together with the wife of the French administrator. As he departed Palheta presented the French administrator’s wife with a bouquet in which he had hidden mature coffee beans.