Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue July 21 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | July 21, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Savor The Flavor of Martinique's Coffee and Cocoa Museum

    Savor The Flavor of Martinique's Coffee and Cocoa Museum

    All photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    An obsession with the perfect cup of coffee haunts a good portion of the world, but many North American's don't realize that their daily cup at Starbucks claims a decidedly Français pedigree.  My travels to the French territory of Martinique uncovered some interesting caffeinated history at the Coffee and Cocoa Museum. Housed on the second floor of the sprawling Domaine de Chateau Gaillard complex, I learned about how coffee originally arrived in North America.

    After climbing up a long staircase, the museum revealed a striking assortment of coffee and cocoa paraphernalia along with the history. According to the displays, coffee originated in Ethiopia, when goat herds noticed that their goats became so lively that they didn't want to sleep at night after they ate red berries from a certain plant.

    Coffee plants were soon cultivated and eventually found their way to France, as a gift from the Dutch. King Louis XIV ordered the precious shrub to be planted in the Paris Royal Botanical Garden.

    In 1723, a naval officer stationed in Martinique stole a seedling from the plant and sailed with it back to the Caribbean, sharing his own water supply with the exotic plant. He planted the seedling in Martinique where it thrived and produced a reported 18 million coffee trees on the island. For the next 50 years, Martinique became the most important coffee producer in the world, producing stock for the rest of the Caribbean, Central and South America.

    Clearly, coffee has been a thing for a long time. Posters of people sipping the brew from around the world line the museum's walls, along with paintings of the plant and charts of historic coffee productions in different countries. There are also displays of antique coffee grinders and sifters to demonstrate the tedious process of creating a drinkable brew.

    On the other side of the room, a wall is dedicated to cocoa drinking and ads with joyful children clutching chocolate bars or pouring cocoa illustrate just how popular the tradition was.

    The museum resembles the scattered array of a collector's personal horde and my favorite part was an extensive display of coffee and chocolate pots. The difference between pots is that the spout is up for coffee and down for chocolate.

    After browsing the Coffee and Cocoa Museum, you can stroll through a nursery full of tropical plants, sample coffee at the restaurant or shop at a variety of artisan vendors, including a pottery store where you can watch the potters at work. Domaine de Chateau Galliard is open daily, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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