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Saltwinds Coffee Company
Saltwinds Coffee Company
Made in the Maritimes

Transportation of coffee to New Brunswick in 1700s and 1800s

In our last blog post, we revealed that the NB House of Assembly held its very first meeting in a Fredericton coffee house, in 1788. The records, unfortunately, do not tell us if the then Lieutenant Governor Thomas Carleton and his MLAs were imbibing coffee on that fateful day, or if they were indulging in the liqueurs that coffee houses were known to serve in those days. Assuming that our elected representatives were sipping responsibly even 234 years ago, wouldn’t it be great to know what kind of coffee they would have been drinking, and recreate that cup?

This photograph of boats in the Saint John harbour taken in 1899 is part of the Albert Hickman collection at the Provincial Archives <a href=httpsarchivesgnbcaExhibitsHistoricalImagesDetailsaspxculture=en CAImageID=P13 26>Image found Provincial Archives of New BrunswickP13 26<a>

We know that coffee drunk at the British American Coffee House (and other coffee houses in NB)  would have been transported to New Brunswick in a wooden sailing ship, and probably offloaded in Saint John or St. Andrews before being locally roasted. Ship’s manifests from the year of 1824 give us a sense of the volume of coffee that the earliest settlers drank: over the year, 68 barrels and bags of green coffee beans were unloaded in St Andrews, 248 in Saint John, and 141 in Richibucto and Miramichi. Assuming that those barrels and bags were a similar capacity to a modern sack of coffee – about 70 kg – that gives us a total of 32 metric tonnes of coffee! 

Saint John Harbour in the late 19th century <a href=httpsenwikipediaorgwikiSaint John New BrunswickmediaFileBlacksmith Shop Behind Custom Housejpg>Image from Wikipedia<a>

The source of this coffee was probably the West Indies, from countries like Jamaica. Sailing up from the Caribbean, ships would have been loaded with sought after tropical products, and records of the manifests show substantial volumes of sugar, rum, and oranges sailing up with the coffee to NB’s ports. Saltwind’s Ocean Fresh coffee, infused with sea air just like the coffee in those ship’s holds would have been, is perhaps the closest thing you can get to the taste of the coffee from those bygone days.

References

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/27111/27111-h/27111-h.htm

http://www.familyheritage.ca/fredericton2.html

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