Today in the world of specialty coffee, Bourbon and Typica are the most important Arabica coffee varieties. Recent genetic studies have confirmed that Bourbon and Typica were the seeds brought from Ethiopia to Yemen, and from the latter they spread throughout the world, forming the basis of modern Arabica coffee cultivation.
It was the French who attempted to introduce coffee three times from Yemen to Bourbon Island (now La Réunion), in 1708, 1715 and 1718. Genetic studies have confirmed that only a small number of plants from the second introduction and some from the third introduction they were successful. Until the middle of the 19th century, Bourbon coffee did not leave the island.
Coffee has been traded for commercial purposes for 400 years. From there, it has spread to approximately 70 countries where it is currently grown. The Dutch were the ones who began to establish economies of scale around the production and export of coffee. Later they grew coffee in Java and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The first exports from Java to the Netherlands occurred in 1711, and the Dutch East India Company was the first multinational corporation in history and the first to export coffee on a large scale.
During these four centuries, a pattern of neo-feudal behaviour has been generated, which has forced small coffee growers to chain themselves into ultra-dependent relationships with large landowners or multinationals, which have caused multimillion-dollar profits for large companies, in addition to the concentration of land, marginalization and slavery. This is how this business model has been perpetuated until today.
The good news about Uganda is that there is great potential. Probably you have heard this many times, and I am sure that nobody reading this article, has ever cupped an outstanding Ugandan lot.
So, where is all that potential when it comes to cupping?
The history of coffee in Indonesia
Indonesia was the third country in the world to grow coffee for commercial purposes after Ethiopia and Yemen.
The history of coffee in Indonesia, as in many others producing countries around the world, begins with tales of colonialism, slavery, monopoly and multinational corporations (Yes! The first ones of modern history were set in the early 17th century).