Coffee of The Day
4291 views March 24, 2016 posted by Maja Wallengren

BREAKING NEWS: Researchers Track Down Gabriel de Clieu’s Coffee Tree in Martinique, New Production To Start by 2017-18

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Back on popular demand, from my trip just over one year ago where I was able to unravel this AMAZING part of Coffee History, live from MARTINIQUE 🙂

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–SpillingTheBeans aka Maja Wallengren reporting LIVE from Fort-de-France, Martinique

FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique, FEB 29 (SpillingTheBeans)–Coffee researchers and scientists have tracked down 2 coffee trees in a remote mountain area of Martinique and have through genetic-genome DNA testing confirmed that these two trees originate from the original coffee seedling brought here by French naval officer Gabriel de Clieu in 1720, local officials said Thursday.

Even more exciting, SpillingTheBeans can CONFIRM that a pilot project has been initiated to REACTIVATE the coffee production in Martinique. Seeds are currently being taken from the two trees in order to secure that the future production from this sacred coffee island will be “the coffee of a legend” and all consist of the top quality Typica variety, local officials told SpillingTheBeans during an exclusive visit here this week.

The first production from the new pilot project is expected to be ready for exports by the 2017-18 crop cycle, and production is forecast to reach at least 2,000 kilograms by 2020, when Martinique will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of coffee production to the Americas by Gabriel de Clieu’s legendary voyage across the Atlantic, where he endured pirate attacks, a great storms and water shortage in order to ensure the survival of one of the coffee plants brought on the journey.

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It is in these remote coffee mountains of the Caribbean island of Martinique that researchers and coffee scientists have tracked down two different Arabica trees which both can be traced back to Gabriel de Clieu’s one surviving coffee seedling that first arrived here in 1720.

SpillingTheBeans was taken to the two spots by local coffee officials and shown where the trees — of which at least one has been identified to be of the original Typica variety — had been found. She was also shown pictures of the rare trees but was SWORN to secrecy as to the exact location of the trees, of which pictures have yet to be officially published, due to the extreme rare and unique history.

The trees were only identified last year after 15 years of research and scientific investigations by coffee experts in Martinique. The trees are kept under close watch in a number of different locations in Martinique and — in a humoristic twist of history — they are actually kept under sealed doors not accessible to the public, much like the trees in the Royal Botanic Gardens of Paris were at the time it took de Clieu years himself in order to get access to a couple of coffee seedlings for his voyage.

De Clieu’s seedling is believed to be the great grandfather of 90 percent of the world’s coffee today heart

For the full story of Gabriel de Clieu’s voyage in 1720, don’t miss it here: http://spilling-the-beans.net/fascinating-fact-the-great-grandfather-of-90-of-the-worlds-coffee-is-from-martenique/

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For more on the FASCINATING history of De Clieu’s coffee tree and how coffee spread through the world, see: http://spilling-the-beans.net/fascinating-fact-sex-drugs-lies-or-contraband-how-did-coffee-really-spread-to-the-world/

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5 Comments

  • Hi Maja, this is fantastic story, please keep us abreast on any new developments. Regards, Gonzalo

    • Thanks Gonzalo, your comment is much appreciated and yes, it was absolutely fascinating, I hope to get some more pictures ready soon and will follow this closely, it’s uniquely important for the history of coffee 🙂

  • WOW! Thank you!!! I’m crazy about coffee history!!!

  • What a great discovery by these Martinique researchers! Thank you Maja for bringing attention to it. One important fact is that the 200th anniversary of De Clieu’s voyage and introduction of coffee should not be 2020, but most likely 2023. This is a common mistake repeated in English coffee history books. In De Clieu’s own 1774 letter in French, he explains that he went back to France in late 1720, a crossing that lasted several months, he then spent 18-20+ months in France, so he definitely did not bring coffee to the Americas in 1720. I know this insanely obscure but interesting tidbit because I spent 5 years writing and researching a book on De Clieu: Coffee Smuggler, which you can find at http://www.dave-holman.com and on Amazon. Thanks for your coffee writing!

    • Dear Dave, thanks SO much for your kind comment and for taking the time to add to the debate — I have always been frustrated by the discrepancy in the years, because whether it’s 1720, 1721 or 1723, I want it correct 😉 In Martinique, the local researchers point to evidence that the first coffee seedling did land in 1720 — and then the first seedlings/cuttings of that tree were brought to Guadeloupe in 1723. In between the bio-generic time line of coffee coupled with the time sea traveling took at the time, I do find the local research in Martinique both viable and realistic. But I still continue to research these various reports, and one of the key issues that keeps coming up to confuse the matter is that Guadeloupe very quickly took over larger-scale production… But I am thrilled to meet a fellow coffee-history fanatics and will definitively look into your writings as well to be sure we have it nailed down before the stunning 300th Anniversary in 2020/23, and please sent more comments back. Thanks again and all the best 🙂

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