The island of Haiti and the production of Coffee are intertwined at the root. One cannot exist without the other. To understand this relationship, one must know the island's history. Coffee has been cultivated on the island of Haiti since 1734 and by 1788 produced half of the world's coffee supply. This is no small feat for a country with a total area of 10,714 mi² (vs. US: 3.797 million mi²). To maintain this level of productivity, the French depended on the labor of broken natives, mainly from the west coast of Africa. By 1791, coffee became the taste of discontent on the island. Inhumane working conditions and the innate human nature to be free fueled a revolution on the island of Haiti. Plantations were burned down, and on January 1st, 1804, under the leadership of Boukman, Toussaint Louverture, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the island of Haiti became the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state. Broken but not defeated were the now free African natives.
In the words of Toussaint Louverture, “They have in me struck down but the trunk of the tree; the roots are many and deep - they will shoot up again!”. Similarly, the coffee tree will grow in abundance on the island of Haiti once again. The revitalization of the coffee industry in Haiti has been underway for some time now. With a significant milestone in 1941, when the island was the world’s third major producer. But frequent political unrest has been a torn on the side of the coffee industry and has prevented its organic growth.
Nonetheless, the coffee industry remains resilient and continues to produce some of the world’s best coffee. The coffee beans of Haiti are descendent of ancient trees from Yemen and Ethiopia. Haitian coffee has a mellow taste, medium or dark roasted, smooth to drink, low acidity, and natural sweetness.
Lakay Coffee aspires to be the bridge between our customers and Haiti's local and community farmers. Every purchase we make directly enriches Haiti’s farmers' lives and supports the nation’s agricultural infrastructure.
*Photo credit: NPR