Since 1750 coffee trees have been present on five continents, coffee beans have participated in creating one of the vital turning points in world history – the Great Industrial Revolution, and at the same time abolishing the regime. Moreover, coffee has opened its turning point, becoming a commodity capable of dominating the modern economy and politics. So let’s learn about the history of coffee in the last conquest of the 18-19 century with Helena.
History of Cafe 18th-19th century
The Great Industrial Revolution began in England during the 18th century and spread to other regions. At the beginning of the 19th century, there was a period known as the “Age of Enlightenment.” In particular, the development of the system of factories has changed people’s lives, attitudes and eating habits. In previous European societies, most people worked from home. They don’t have to allocate limited hours of work and rest. They work for themselves, as long as they like.
With the emergence of metallurgical plants and textile factories, workers flocked to the cities to live and work in deplorable conditions. As both women and children participate in organized labor, there is little time for housework.
One historian writes: “The workers did not have time to prepare lunch or dinner. And people drink bland coffee as the last stimulant for a flat stomach, which, at least in the short term, can quench hunger pangs.” The drink of the aristocracy now has become an indispensable medicine for tired people, and morning coffee has replaced the soup of breakfast.
The cultural position of coffee was influenced by the industrial revolution, for better or for worse.
As technology expanded, production reached a high level with new conceptions of workers. Instead, people are like cogs in a machine built to work efficiently. The production scale makes coffee more accessible to the public than ever before. For factory workers, coffee became a necessary fuel and an excellent excuse to take a break. Coffee is no longer associated with leisurely society but is fuel for human machines.
Coffee and slavery
By 1750, coffee was being grown on five continents. For the lower classes of society, it provided a comfortable drink. On the other hand, the effects of coffee appear to be relatively mild. It has added a significant source of sobriety to a wine-soaked Europe and provided a catalyst in the knowledge society environment, as William Ukers wrote in his classic book All About Coffee.
But more and more European powers brought more and more coffee to the colonial countries to grow, care for, harvest and process coffee from imported enslaved people. Captain G.de Clieu, who brought coffee to Latin America) may have loved his coffee plants wholeheartedly, but he did not personally collect them.
Oppressions related to coffee
Enslaved people were initially brought to the Caribbean to harvest sugar cane (like coffee, sugar was replicated by the Arabs in the second half of the 17th century). Thus, when the French colonists first planted coffee in San Domingo in 1734, more enslaved Africans needed to work on the farms.
In 1788, San Domingo supplied half of the world’s coffee. So it was the coffee that fueled the thinking of Voltaire and Diderot (two French writers, historians and philosophers of the Enlightenment) created by forced labor in an inhumane form. In San Domingo, enslaved people lived in deplorable conditions in dark huts lacking food and worked around the clock.
The uprisings and the scarcity of coffee
Not surprisingly, a few decades later, enslaved people revolted in 1791 in a 20-year struggle for freedom – becoming the only successful slave uprising in history. Most of the large areas of land formerly planted with coffee have now burned to ashes along with their owners. Until 1801, when the black leader of Haiti tried to restore coffee exports through the “Fermage” system (a type of state slavery), the harvest was still lowering 45% over the previous year, 1789.
With the world supply of coffee dwindling, the Dutch filled the void with Javanese coffee. Although they did not often use force or torture workers, they put themselves under the yoke of slavery. According to historian Heinrich Eduard Jacob, Javanese pruned trees or picked coffee in the tropical heat.
Napoleon, coffee, and chicory
In 1806, after conducting the war with England, Napoleon issued the so-called continental system (Continental System) to punish the British by cutting off contact with Europe. “We will have to do everything for ourselves,” declared Napoleon. And indeed, the system produced many important agricultural and industrial innovations. Napoleon’s researchers succeeded in extracting cane sugar to replace cane sugar.
However, Europeans could not make their coffee, so they used chicory root instead. This European vegetable has long, white seeds that, when crushed and ground, give you a powder that looks to some extent like coffee. When mixed with hot water, it provides a dark, bitter taste that can be drunk but nothing like coffee and has no caffeine. Yet the French developed a taste for chicory during the Napoleonic era, and even after the Continental System was dismantled in 1814, they continued to mix the root with coffee.
The Great Depression & A New Age for Coffee
From 1814 to 1817, when Amsterdam regained its central position in the coffee trade, prices ranged from 16 to 20 cents a pound (0.45kg) – quite agreeably compared to the 1812 price. $1.08/pound. However, strong coffee demand across Europe and the United States pushed prices up 30 cents per pound of Java coffee. As a result, farmers work hard to grow new trees, and in places like Brazil, coffee plantations are encroaching into tropical rainforests.
In 1823, as these arable lands were beginning to yield, another crisis loomed – War between France and Spain seemed to be near. They predict that the sea lanes will soon be blocked, and prices will skyrocket. But it turned out that there was no war at all, at least not now.
Green coffee comes from Mexico, Jamaica, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. Overnight, many billionaires lost their lives hundreds of people committed suicide. A new era begins. From now on, the price of coffee will swing wildly due to speculation, politics, weather, and the stings of war. Coffee became the international commodity that during the latter part of the 19th century would completely transform the economy, ecology & politics of Latin America.
The chain of historical events to this stage has almost brought coffee into the stream of the modern economy – which is still functioning today. The economics of coffee since the 19th century has seen a dramatic change in the way people produce and consume coffee. Yet commercially almost unchanged, coffee is virtually impossible. Separate from the domination of market forces (speculation & hoarding are the two main driving forces). In general, it is still unstable and accompanied by many paradoxes, of which the most profound is that price and pricing issues are always at the forefront of today’s coffee trade.