Coffee drinking in New France

Coffee drinking in Canada is likely to have first started in New France (modern-day Quebec), thanks to a strong tradition of frequent coffee drinking amongst the French. At that time, coffee would have been reserved for the elite, as it was a luxuriously expensive product that had to be imported by boat – falling into a similar category as spices, or chocolate. The first record we have of coffee being drunk in New France is from 1752, when the French envoy, Louis Franquet, had a post-dinner drink while visiting Mme Pierre-François de Rigaud. Mmm de Rigaud was the sister-in-law of the then Governor, Pierre de Rigaud, and would have definitely been considered one of the colonial elite. She lived in a grand mansion in Trois Riviere, and, as legend has it, she entertained that French envoy with a cup of coffee at her bedside…

Coffee pot, Image from Museedel Histoire

The coffee they drank would have been imported from the French colonies of Martinique, Guadeloupe or the Island of Bourbon, in each case coming from the coffee farms that had been established there just a few years prior. These beans would have been transported to New France in wooden sailing boats, likely arriving in the port of Trois-Rivieres or Quebec City itself before being distributed to local roasters (or even roasted in the home itself). Coffee in New France was typically consumed black or with milk – probably quite similar to the cafe au lait that you can still find in the street cafes of Paris today.

Image from Lunch Under the Arbor





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