In an earlier blog we discussed the millions of cups consumed by Americans every year and also noted that coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world. However, coffee has not always been king in the U.S. and a look back at political influences may tell you a story or parts of a story you did now know. Our history as a country is rooted in a political uprising in which coffee played a part!
Of course, I am talking about the infamous Boston Tea Party carried out by the Sons of Liberty in Boston harbor on December 16, 1773. The Sons of Liberty threw 342 chests of tea overboard to protest taxation by the British Parliament. Now, the dumping of the tea was a symbolic gesture but the reaction of many citizens was to amend their drinking behaviors. As noted in this article The Revolution of American Drinking http://ushistoryscene.com/article/american-drinking/ this was perhaps the first “buy local, buy American” movement in American history.
Without the luxuries of the Atlantic market for tea supplies, Americans turned to coffee which was grown in the East Indies and Jamaica by this time in history. An interesting note is that only wealthier citizens drank coffee prior to this time due to the extra effort required to prepare coffee. Only Americans with servants or slaves to grind and prepare it served it as a show of privilege. Pretty snobbish behavior, right?
Back to coffee for the average American. As the tide for independence was turning even John Adams became a champion for coffee. Adams wrote the following to his wife Abigail in 1774 about his enlightenment to coffee:
“I believe I forgot to tell you one Anecdote: When I first came to this House it was late in the Afternoon, and I had ridden 35 miles at least. “Madam” said I to Mrs. Huston, “is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea provided it has been honestly smuggled, or paid no Duties?”
“No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place. I cant make Tea, but I’le make you Coffee.” Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well. Tea must be universally renounced. I must be weaned, and the sooner, the better.”
Coffee changed America and for the first time in history, Americans stood up to become more than just subjects to another country. With the shunning of tea, Americans found their identity in something as simple as what they chose to drink for breakfast. We became a nation of independence and free choice, thanks to a little coffee bean! Come back next time and we will continue with the thread to understand how political subterfuge has origins in coffee too. Bring a fresh cup of Dark Corner Coffee with you and join us!