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Saltwinds Coffee Company
Saltwinds Coffee Company
Made in the Maritimes

It all started with one tree: the birth of the Caribbean coffee industry

Were it not for one naval officer by the name of Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, coffee might have never made it to Canada. Captain de Clieu, stationed in the Caribbean Island of Martinique, was inspired to try growing coffee on its lush jungle slopes. However, previous attempts to grow the coffee from green beans had failed miserably: there was nothing for it but to try and bring a live coffee seedling across the Atlantic.

Captain de Clieu and his coffee seedling during their voyage to Martinique Image from <a href=httpsespressocoffeequoracomCoffees Noble Tree>Coffees Noble Tree<a>

Fortunately, Captain de Clieu didn’t have to go as far as Yemen or Ethiopia to get a seedling: Louis XIV, then King of France, had one prized specimen in his greenhouse, a gift from the traders of the Dutch East India Company. In 1723, one small sprig was placed into de Clieu’s hands as he set off from Nantes, France on a perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean aboard a merchantman vessel.

Captain de Clieu protecting his coffee plant from jealous fellow passengers Image from <a href=httpsespressocoffeequoracomCoffees Noble Tree>Coffees Noble Tree<a><br>

It’s a miracle that Captain de Clieu’s plant survived at all: during the crossing, their ship was menaced by pirates, damaged by a violent tempest and set adrift by a deadly calm. Their voyage was so delayed that drinking water was rationed, and de Clieu had to share his meager portion with his delicate coffee plant. Finally, he and the plant arrived safely in Martinique where he placed it in the ground, fenced and guarded 24/7. Four years later, he was able to collect a first harvest of seeds which, by 1777, had multiplied into more than 18 million coffee trees in Martinique alone. These same coffee seeds were also the starting point for almost all the coffee planted in the West Indies in the 1700s, and so it’s really thanks to Captain de Clieu that we can enjoy a fine cup of coffee from Central or South American today.

The island of Martinique in the West Indies <a href=httpsespressocoffeequoracomCoffees Noble Tree>Coffees Noble Tree<a>

References:

https://ca.jura.com/en/about-coffee/coffee-history

Ukers, William H. Coffee. Boston, 1922. Ch. II p. 7-10

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