Untold Black History of Coffee: 10 Surprising Facts

  1. Coffee has a massive global industry worth 495 billion dollars per year, but less than 1% of this revenue returns to people of African descent, highlighting the ongoing inequalities in the coffee trade.
  2. All 130 species of coffee are indigenous to Africa, rooting Africa as ground zero for coffee biodiversity and future sustainability. 
  3. The origin of Arabic coffee can be traced back to the Ethiopian plateau around 850 B.C., marking the beginning of coffee culture in Africa.
  4. The Oromo Guji people in Ethiopia created a pre-colonial indigenous coffee blessing called "Buna Fi Nagaa Hin Dhabiina" over 2000 years ago, which translates to "May your house lack no coffee and no peace."
  5. In some Islamic cultures, there are coffee priests or holy men who use coffee to facilitate faith and religious rituals.
  6. The Dutch stole coffee in 1616 to become part of the Dutch East India Company, marking the beginning of the European coffee slave trade.
  7. The term "Java" originated from the enslavement of the people of Java island in Indonesia by the Dutch, who used their labor to cultivate coffee.
  8. After slavery ended in Indonesia, Haiti became the next center for enslaved coffee labor. Ironically, this is where the stolen coffee seeds were first reunited with the stolen bodies from Africa.
  9. Enslaved Africans played a significant role in shaping the coffee industry in the 1800s, with Brazil being one of the most notorious examples. They provided the labor that decreased coffee production costs and made it the readily available beverage it is today.
  10. Rose Nicaud, an enslaved woman in New Orleans, used coffee to purchase her freedom and employed others to do the same, demonstrating the power of coffee in facilitating social change.

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