History of Haiti & Coffee
There are the things most people are already familiar with, such as the devastating natural disasters the island faces on a yearly basis. But the history of the country and the island isn't well known so before we talk a little about Haitian Coffee, it's only right that you first get to know Haiti. So here we go!
Before Christopher Columbus accidentally landed on the island that was named Hispaniola (Haiti & Dominican Republic) by its colonizers, the Taino Amerindians lived in relative peace. It is said that the Taino people were almost wiped out by disease incurred by the arrival of the Europeans and the harsh enslavement of the people around 1942 and 1503. In 1503 the Spanish colonies that occupied the land began to import African slaves and during 1519 and 1533 the colonists suffered the first slave uprising called Enriquillo’s Revolt. This sets the stage for all of Haiti’s history.
The French, King Louis XIV, recognizes the French colonies on the island of Hispaniola in 1665 and named it Saint-Domingue (which is later renamed Haiti by the Haitian hero, Jean-Jacque Dessalines). The Spaniards and French fought over the island until the Treaty of Ryswick was signed and Spain forfeited the western third of the island to France.
Battles for Freedom
African slaves in Haiti (Haitians) have always fought for their freedom and seemed to have a relentless amount of will and strength to do so. Led by General Toussaint L'Ouverture and his friends and allies, Jean-Jacque Dessalines & Henri Christophe, successful slave resistances were common and much of the European colonists died in the process. During 1794, the French were the first Europeans to abolish slavery but in 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte brought it back – which led to a very strong push-back in which the French could not withstand. In 1803, the great General Toussaint L'Ouverture wrote Haiti's Declaration of Independence from the French and in 1804 Jean-Jacque Dessalines declared it to be so. Thus, Haiti became the first “black” independent country and a Republic in its own right.
The Spaniards retained control over the slaves and island on the eastern side known as the Dominican Republic. Much more can be said about how the Haitian attempted to free the DR slaves, but that is for another time.
Dust Still Settles
Haiti today is the poorest country on the Western Hemisphere, many misinformed people (and racists) have concluded that it is because the people of Haiti needed the Europeans in order to amass any semblance of a functioning society. But in fact, it is because after the greatest victory in the history of freedom was achieved the United States and the European powers refused to recognize Haiti. By doing so they made it impossible for Haiti to trade what little the country had after so much of the land could no longer produce resources. Furthermore, France threatened the people of Haiti with the full force of Frances armies if they did not agree to compensate the slaveholders for the loss of their property – which were the slaves themselves.
From 1825 to 1947 Haiti made payments to France and by 2015, France forgave $77 million in debt that was not related to Haiti’s independence.
Haiti's 300 Years Of Coffee!
The story of Haiti's coffee is one not often told. Why? Because, Haiti is more widely known for its woes, from both within the country and outside. But coffee had played a significant role in Haiti's history when the plant was first introduced to the island in 1715 by French colonizers.
Haiti in the 1700's played such a significant role in coffee cultivation that it supplied half of the worlds' coffee in 1788. Much can be said about how this small country was able to produce so much, the most significant reason being the relentless and ruthless use of enslaved Africans from Benin. These slaves would later organize and execute what is known as the Haitian Revolution, led by Toussaint Louverture, and win their freedom from the French in multiple wars, the final battle against Napoleon, becoming the first independent "black" republic.
It is widely known by coffee connoisseurs, that when Haiti's coffee is produced and processed in the traditional Haitian way, it is superior to the majority of coffees in the market today.
The Tragedy That Is Haiti
Have you ever heard of the Hero's Journey? Discovered by psychologist Carl Jung, it is a cycle experienced by all living beings but was most understood through humanity.
Well, Haiti is in the thralls of its own Hero's Journey. Within this framework there are embodied characteristics known as the Archetypes:
Each Archetype has 2 alternate modes that it can succumb to known as shadow aspects. These shadows are the darker side of the primary which all must attempt to become to live to their highest ability. In my opinion, Haiti suffers from the Warriors shadow: The Masochist.
A brief look into Haiti's history in coffee following the revolution is proof of this shadow archetype.
From the destruction of the coffee plantations as part of the revolution to the burning of the plants for charcoal. Although the Haitian General Toussaint Louverture attempted to bring back the country's biggest export, this failed to no avail. And the coffee industry has seen many rises and falls.
L'Ouverture Coffee is here to fix many of Haiti's economic, environmental and agricultural problems by serving as a leader in Haitian coffee.
There remain coffee farmers in Haiti that are using traditional coffee cultivation methods to produce Haiti's new, leaf rust resistant, coffee known as Blue Pine Forest.
Blue Pine Forest
Grown in Haiti's renown pine forest, this coffee is unique and has been cupped by top connoisseurs, giving it a high score in the industry. If you're wondering what it tastes like? Wondering what good Haitian Blue Forest coffee taste like?
If my hunch is right, the first four won't make it. Already Blue Forest is smoking the others in aroma — it's intoxicating. I can't believe my good fortune. - Todd Carmicheal, Esquire
Hispaniola's pine forest is shared by both of the islands countries, Haiti & the Dominican Republic. With elevations of up to 4,000 feet, it is the perfect place for coffee cultivation.
Though this section of the country is precious, we see the Masochist shadow of Haiti again. The destruction of Haiti's pine forest. It will take millenniums to bring them back... but L'Ouverture Coffee can help.