The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 1500-1989

The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 1500-1989

The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 1500-1989

The Global Coffee Economy in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 1500-1989


Coffee beans grown in Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, or one of the other hundred producing lands on five continents remain a palpable and long-standing manifestation of globalization. For five hundred years coffee has been grown in tropical countries for consumption in temperate regions. This 2003 volume brings together scholars from nine countries who study coffee markets and societies over the last five centuries in fourteen countries on four continents and across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, with a special emphasis on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The chapters analyse the creation and function of commodity, labour, and financial markets; the role of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in the formation of coffee societies; the interaction between technology and ecology; and the impact of colonial powers, nationalist regimes, and the forces of the world economy in the forging of economic development and political democracy.


Gwyn Campbell

Coffee production on Réunion (Bourbon), a small island near Madagascar off the coast of Africa, was significant in the eighteenth century, but declined rapidly thereafter. Réunion Creoles then carried the coffee frontier to Madagascar, conquered by France in 1895. Colonial policies made coffee the major Malagasy export by the 1930s and, inadvertently, promoted indigenous smallholder production. the subsequent battle over resources between Réunion Creoles and their Malagasy competitors on the East Coast was a major cause of the 1947 uprising, one of the most bloody episodes in French colonial history. the revolt effectively squeezed small Creole planters out of coffee, leaving a handful of large metropolitan French concerns and numerous small indigenous cultivators. the 1972 revolution led to the demise of large French companies and ushered in a period of mismanaged nationalization that undermined the entire economy, including the coffee sector.

Réunion, 1711—1895

Wild Mauritiana coffee was discovered, growing at an altitude of over 600 meters, near St. Paul on Réunion in 1711. Popularly termed “café marron, ” it was said that “the most subtle connoisseurs can in no way distinguish [it]...from Mocha coffee.” From 1720, English and Dutch ships purchased Mauritiana coffee, and it was well received in France in 1721. However, Mauritiana prospered only at high altitude and was pronounced less smooth, less perfumed, and more bitter than Mocha . . .

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