I'm late in celebrating National Coffee Day, but in my world it's always a good day to celebrate coffee, so no worries. Before even getting started, I should mention that I'm very opinionated about coffee, probably a coffee "snob," but I am also very simple in my taste for coffee. I'm not a big fan of that giant chain everyone seems so in love with; I find it bitter and burned too often and the wild flavors get in the way of the coffee itself.
Don't get me wrong. Every once in a while, I love a caramel macchiato or a pumpkin latte, but that's definitely not something I want to wake up to every morning. Give me a nice, strong, black cup of coffee. And while I certainly would not pass up a demi-tasse of authentic-brewed-in-Europe espresso, I like my coffee to last long enough to sip on and savor for a while, not a tiny little cup that's gone in 30 seconds. Enter Haitian coffee.
Haitian coffee has a very long history that many, if not most, people outside Haiti do not know about. Coffee beans were introduced to the Caribbean in the 1720's and by the end of the century, Haiti was the world's largest coffee producer. Haitians ruled the world of coffee, while being ruled by the French who had colonized the country and after gaining independence. They peaked in the mid 1800s and apparently rose again to be the third largest producer at the beginning of the 1950s, but then sank as the country fell into political turmoil through the next several decades. The low price of coffee after the end of the International Coffee Agreement in the late 1980s seemed to have been the nail in the coffin, so to speak, and Haitian coffee workers "forgot" their skills as they moved to other sources of income.
Now, Haitian coffee is making somewhat of a comeback, at least that's what coffee producers like Cafe Rebo and Haitian Bleu Coffee are hoping. There are other producers too, of course, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund got into the action by lending $150,000 to a cooperative of coffee growers in Haiti. So now Haitian coffee isn't just good, the profits go to a good cause, if you buy products produced by growers in the cooperative.
After reading about the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund's effort, I was curious about Haitians' own habits in regards to drinking coffee, and I'm going to leave it open to Haitians who might read this blog. What I have seen is that many Haitians, both in the U.S. and in Haiti, tend to drink instant coffee, and American brands at that. It seems odd to me that they'd choose horrible (remember, I'm a coffee snob) instant coffee when Haitian coffee should be readily available to them!
I've got my theories, of course, such as maybe too much coffee is exported because of the high profit and people in Haiti are left without enough for their own homes. Or, maybe it's easier to store instant coffee in the humid climate. I read a blog somewhere that indicated that the Haitians the blogger stayed with drank instant in the morning and authentic, fresh-brewed Haitian coffee in the evenings. (Sorry, I can't find it now that I want it, although there are tons of blogs out there about Haitian coffee, as a quick Google search will reveal.) Perhaps Haitians are in a rush to get the day started and drink instant because it's faster, and save the good stuff for evenings when they have time to enjoy and savor it. I don't know.
So I leave this to anyone reading. Help me figure this out! I'll go a little nuts if I don't get answers, so please comment, and if you know any Haitian coffee drinkers, please forward my request on to them. I really want to know! Thanks. And tomorrow morning when I'm drinking my coffee, I'll be jealously thinking of all the people drinking a good strong cup of Haitian coffee because I'm out and need to order some more...
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Written by Dana Jean
Sunday, 02 October 2011 00:18