Chapter Notes

Chapter 11: The Genie Uncorked and Unbottled


Map of the West Indies

The Eastern trade routes might have been dominated by the Dutch in the early 1700s, with the French confined mainly to their small outpost in Pondicherry, but to the west were the glittering islands of the Caribbean, divided like little jewels between the competing colonial powers.

Gabriel de Clieu

Gabriel de Clieu, the French naval officer who brought one of the coffee trees from the Jardin des Plants in Paris to Martinique in 1720, is thought by some to have transported the mother of all the subsequent coffee trees in the Western Hemisphere.

Map of Cayenne

Meanwhile, the Dutch were busily planting coffee trees of their own in Surinam, their main West Indian colony sitting uneasily between the two Guyanas. From Surinam, coffee spread to the neighbouring French colony of Cayenne – later known as French Guyana.

Ile Bourbon

Ile Bourbon

Along with the Eastern outpost of Java and the Western plantations based in and around the Caribbean, a new area of coffee production had also become important - the French island of Reunion, known then as Ile Bourbon.


Bourbon coffee came to be a favourite of the French aristocracy as well as the growing army of caffeine addicted artists and writers, such as Balzac who, according to his biographer, carried a leather pouch around with him everywhere he went which contained a supply of Café Bourbon along with a portable grinder.

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