Coffee’s first appearance in North America

Coffee arrived in North America alongside some of the first Europeans. Captain John Smith, the selfsame Captain Smith of the Pocahontas story, and the founder of the colony of Virginia was a coffee addict.

The arrival of the English settlers in Jamestown, Virginia
image source https://www.legendsofamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/ColonistsLandingAtJamestown.jpg 
Captain John Smith’s legendary memoirs of travel, adventure…and coffee?!
Image source https://www.gutenberg.org/files/55199/55199-h/55199-h.htm

Even though coffee was not yet widely drunk in Europe, Captain Smith had had the opportunity to sample the beverage while traveling in Turkey and became an instant fan. He loved it so much, he took coffee beans with him on all his travels, as described in his

bestselling memoirs “Travel and Adventure”. So even in the earliest days of the founding of Jamestown in 1607, coffee was already being used to help energize and awaken the first pioneers.

The first record we have of the purchase of coffee in North America is from the account of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.

In 1683, he bought green coffee beans at a price of 18 shillings and 9 pence per pound – that’s about $70 a pound in today’s prices!

But what kind of coffee were these early pioneers drinking? Records from New York in 1668 give us an appetizing recipe: coffee flavored with cinnamon, sweetened with honey and served hot. 


Singleton, Esther. Dutch New York. New York, 1909. p. 132

Bishop, J. Leander. A History of American Manufacturers, 1608 to 1860. New York, 1864. Vol 1, p. 259

Ukers, William H. Coffee. Boston, 1922. Ch. VI p. 4

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