If you've read a little bit about Coffee for Water, then you probably know we sell Haitian coffee. And unless you're a true-blue connoisseur of the craft, chances are good that the phrase “Haitian coffee” came as a surprise when you first saw it. Of all the Latin American countries that are known for growing coffee, Haiti is certainly one of the least (if not the least) well known today. But while it may be a surprise to many now, there was a time when Haiti's coffee was not so unfamiliar. In fact, at one time Haitian coffee comprised almost 50% of the world’s coffee supply! It was only after Haiti’s coffee industry suffered from a series of political, economic, and environmental blows that it all but vanished.
In the Past
Haiti has a long history of coffee production. Coffee has been grown there (off and on) for the past several centuries, getting its start while the country was still under French rule during the 18th century. Spurred on by high demand in countries like France and Italy, within a century of being introduced the coffee plant became a staple of Haitian agriculture, causing production to expand and eventually supply a substantial portion of the world's coffee market.
However, Haiti’s coffee industry would not retain its world-class status for long. After Haiti gained its independence from France in the early 19th century it lost an essential connection to the world coffee market; as a result of the country's newly earned freedom it estranged a substantial source of international demand for Haitian coffee. Without the high demand to drive production Haiti’s coffee growing capacity fell. Coffee production then took another hit in the 1970s when the price of coffee dropped, which discouraged farmers from growing it.
Several decades later in the early 1990s, Haitian coffee production declined even further after their largely democratic government was overthrown and replaced by a military regime, causing the U.S. to place a trade embargo on the country. At the same time this was happening, a fungus that kills the coffee plant began to spread throughout the small island nation, virtually extinguishing any coffee production that remained. Haiti's once booming industry was left in ruins.
Look Towards the Future
But now after having had time to recover from its setbacks, Haitian coffee is finally ripe to make a resurgence. With the help of Coffee for Water and other organizations with a taste for the unique coffee, Haitian coffee will one-day return to its former prominence, and in doing so help drive Haiti’s economic development. Help us help Haiti and buy our Haitian Coffee today!
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