Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

Coffee in Brazil is Black

April 19, 2021

Coffee in Brazil is Black, it was built on the back of slaves brought from West Africa in slave ships

I prefer to see my mother rot than sign a letter of liberty for my slaves. — Monito Campert, Brazilian coffee baron, 1888

The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression. — W E B DuBois

Coffee was introduced to the Portuguese colony of Brazil by Francisco Melo Palheta in 1727. He acquired coffee beans by dubious means when asked to help solve a dispute between Dutch and French colonies in Guiana.  On his return to Brazil he planted the seeds in Para, but until 1822 coffee remained a minor crop compared with sugar. 

Coffee became an important crop when planted in the mountainous Paraiba valley south of Rio, forests cleared, slash and burn, deep purple soil, terra roxa, the coffee seeds planted in the ash, when exhausted, clear more forest, slash and burn.

Coffee estates, fazendas, were huge, two, three, four millions trees. The largest belonging to Francesco Shmidt was a fazenda of seven million coffee trees, employing 40,000 workers. On the fazendas a single slave would tend four to seven thousand coffee plants.

The early coffee plantations in Brazil were a slave economy, 40% of the slaves from West Africa ended up in Brazil.

Over two centuries, Brazil imported three million slaves to work the private fiefdoms that were the coffee estates, an additional five million worked the sugar plantations. To put these figures in context, around half a millions slaves were shipped to North America.

The plantation slave economy is reflected in modern day Brazil. Ten per cent of the population own over 50% of the wealth. Descendants of slaves are ten times more like to be illiterate or destitute.

An IBGE Agro Census (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) carried out between 2017 and 2018, Brazil has five million agricultural establishments, 45.4% are run by white producers. Brown producers have 44.5%, while 8.4% are owned by blacks, 1.1% by indigenous and 0.6% by yellow. There are 2.2 million white producers and 2.6 million black and brown ones, considering the sum of all types of agricultural properties, regardless of the culture and the size of the land.

In large properties, there are almost no black producers. Of the 1,559 farms with more than 10,000 hectares, for example, 1,232 are run by whites, 270 by browns and only 25 by blacks. The ratio is four white producers to one black or brown producer. As for small properties, with fewer than five hectares, the reality is reversed: blacks and browns are the majority.

When considering the extent of the properties of each ethnic group, the survey portrays a great inequality: white producers occupy 208 million hectares, or 59.4% of the total area of ​​establishments, while blacks and browns have, together, less than half of that, that is, 99 million hectares or 28%.

The distortion is even more profound than the distribution of national income found in the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous Pnad) in 2015, according to which whites hold 59% of the country’s wealth, while browns hold 33% and blacks 7%.

To put these figures in context, only one or two per cent of Black Americans own land, ie even worse than Brazil.

A Black farm owner, passers by ask, who owns the land. 

When Phyllis Johnson visited a group in Brazil, the Black female coffee workers could hardly believe their eyes when a Black woman stepped out of the car, they were no longer invisible. They were as proud of their work in coffee as the White coffee farmers who owned the land.

Coffee baron Grao-Mogul was one of the most notorious of the slave owners. If a child fell ill or died, the mother was punished for damage or loss of his property. He would hold banquets at his mansion, when food and drink consumed, the men would descend into the cellar below his house to take their pleasure of the female slaves tied up. 

Brazil was the last of the Western countries to abolish slavery, an internal slave market developed when the British intercepted slave ships. It was not until 1871 Brazil passed the Law of the Free Womb making children of slaves free at birth, followed in 1888 by the Golden Law freeing all slaves. Not that the freed slaves were much better off, the only employment was on the plantations under the same conditions.

When slavery was abolished, the plantations imported cheap labour from southern Europe.

An agricultural census of Sao Paulo State in 1905, sixty-five per cent of the workforce on 21,000 coffee farms was foreign born. The top 20% of the farmers controlled 83% of the land, produced 75% of the coffee, employed 67% of the agricultural workforce.

Coffee production in Brazil:

  • 1871 3 millions sacks
  • 1900 15 million sacks
  • 1930 25 million sacks
  • 2020 69 million sacks

Coffee production boomed from 1820 onward. By 1830 Brazil produced thirty per cent of the world’s coffee, by 1840 forty per cent.

Little has changed in Brazil, fascist President Bolsonaro is waging a war of genocide against the poor with coronavirus, his supporters evangelicals and wealthy owners of large estates who accrued their wealth through slavery. 

Phyllis Johnson is an African American whose widowed mother worked the family cotton farm in Arkansas in order to support her seven children who studied and graduated. She is President and co-founder and CEO of BD Imports a coffee importer and author of The Triumph: Black Brazilians in Coffee.

Coffee and slavery

April 16, 2021

The dark colonial past of coffee that changed coffee from a luxury few could afford to the commodity we know today.

The negroe is that creature that we are forced to keep in his natural state of thraldom to obtain from him the requisite services; because … under a different condition he would not labour. — coffee grower P J Laborie, The Coffee Planter of Saint Domingo, 1798

How much would you pay for a cup of coffee? Ten dollars, thirty-six dollars?

A conversation I have occasionally had in a coffee shop. Buy in high quality coffee, serve as a guest coffee at five dollars a cup. Would the clientele be willing to pay for something special?

A couple of years ago, Taf Coffee, a pour over five euros for two cups of coffee, for coffee from the estate of Ninety Plus.

Stewart Lee Allen, The Devil’s Cup:

In the late 1600s, Louis XV reportedly spent the equivalent of fifteen thousand dollars a year to feed his daughter’s coffee habit. By 1740 the price had fallen to 15 cents a cup, and even the lowliest lumpens could afford a buzz.

It was only a matter of time before coffee spread from Arabia into the Ottoman Empire, and from there into Europe.

The first recorded coffee in Europe, was in Venice, one of the great city-state trading nations, the estate of a murdered Turkish businessman in 1575 included coffee making equipment.  The first coffee shop opened in 1683, by 1759 the Venice City authorities placed a limit of 204 coffee shops, breached within four years.

Coffee used to be a luxury few could afford. It was colonisation and slavery that turned coffee into a commodity.

Coffee seedlings or beans were smuggled to India; from India, the Dutch established plantations in Java. The Dutch kept the local elite in power,  tribute was paid in coffee, subsistence farmers on Java were forced to work the plantations to the neglect of their own crops.

The French established coffee on the island of Bourbon, now Réunion, also in their Caribbean territories starting with Martinique.

Stewart Lee Allen in The Devil’s Cup discusses in some detail, French naval officer Gabriel de Clieu, smuggling plants stolen from the King, given to the King by the Mayor of Amsterdam, taking seedlings to Martinique, his heroic efforts to keep the plants alive when water was rationed on the ship.

The British established coffee on Ceylon. Ceylon is now known for tea, when the British established coffee, using Tamils shipped in from India, by the late 1860s Ceylon had overtaken Java as the world’s leading exporter of coffee. Coffee leaf rust then struck.

Trees over a hundred yeas old have been found in Sri Lanka, the remnants of the old coffee plantations established by the British, the best coffee cherries selected, seedlings grown, new plantations established. I have tasted the coffee from these trees, I have a few coffee beans roasted in Sri Lanka, are hoping to ship over green beans and roast in England.

Africans captured and traded African slaves, British-made goods offloaded, slaves loaded onto the slave ships.

The conditions were atrocious. On the two lower decks barrels, the deck between and below the main deck, slaves lined up in shackles. If a slave fell sick tossed overboard as of little value.

The slaves were shipped to the Caribbean, for sugar and coffee plantations. Sugar plantations on the low lying coastal plains, inland small coffee plantations in the mountains.

A guide to growing coffee on Saint Dominique The Coffee Planter of Saint Domingo by the coffee grower P J Laborie in 1798 describes all stages of coffee growing, from clearing the land to bagging the beans. He even describes the process for washed processing of the coffee cherries, ‘West Indian process’, using water channels then pass through a series of graters. The dark side of the guide, what to look for when buying slaves, how to treat the slaves.

The negroe is that creature that we are forced to keep in his natural state of thraldom to obtain from him the requisite services; because … under a different condition he would not labour.

P J Laborie gives advice on what to look for when buying slaves, features such as an open clear countenance, a clean and lively eye, sound teeth, sinewy arms, dry and large hands, strong loins and haunches and an easy and free movement of the limbs. On purchase the slaves had to be purged of any diseases, forced to drink ‘ sudorific potions’, usually sea water, to rid them of disease, and the ‘unpleasant but necessary’ act of branding.

New slaves had to be ‘seasoned’, introduced slowly to the work, light labour, weeding and gardening, before working sunrise to sunset on the plantations. Laborie preferred young slaves as could be formed to ‘the Master’s own ideas’. Discipline was maintained with a whip wielded by a trusted slave. Laborie details the knots on the whips and advises keeping the whips clean to avoid spread of disease from one slave to another.

The Dutch acquired Suriname from the British, they did a swap with New York. The Dutch had acquired what was then known as  manaháhtaan in 1624 from its inhabitants Lenape Native Indians in exchange for beads, knives, trinkets and guilders.

In Java, the Dutch used forced labour of local sustenance farmers, in Suriname they imported slaves.

Suriname is where man’s inhumanity to man reached its zenith.

In 1738, a slave ship sailing up river in Suriname hit a storm, around 700 slaves on board, the captain told the crew to lock the hold to stop the slaves escaping whilst the crew took to the lifeboats, 664 died when the ship, went down. the crew survived.

1735

  • Yemen $13-41 / lb
  • Java $9-24 / lb
  • Suriname $8-26 / lb

1760

  • Yemen $12-80 / lb
  • Suriname $5-01 / lb

Fast forward another 100 years to around the middle of the 1800s and coffee from the Suriname slave plantation has fallen to around $2 a pound.

If we look at the price of coffee on exchanges we see how the price fell from a luxury to a commodity, the impact of colonisation and cheap labour.

If we look at the impact of lower coffee prices on consumption we can see within a hundred years coffee drunk by the elite in opulent surroundings to a peasant woman hawking takeaway coffee on the street.

Café Procope established in 1686 by Italian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli lays claim to be the oldest and one of the most famous Parisian restaurant or cafés. It was the original European ‘Literary Café’ prototype. Located in the 6th arrondissement on Paris’ Left Bank, and steps from Boulevard Saint-Germain, it retains its former glory and original charm. It was here the literati and men of letters drank coffee, Rousseau, Denis Diderot and Voltaire are just a few of those who frequented the café and heightened its image, that of an authentic opulent oriental coffee house

Café Procope became the model across 18th century Europe for the grand café, Florian’s in Venice, Caffé Greco in Rome.

The Grand Café in Oxford, a Grade II listed building, lays claim to be on the site of the oldest coffee shop in England, 1650 according to Samuel Pepys’ Diary,

According to a number of; sources, including Samuel Pepys, a Jewish entrepreneur named Jacob established the first English coffee house in 1650.The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, Antiquary of Oxford 1632-1695:

This year [1651] Jacob the Jew opened a coffey house at the Angel in the parish of S. Peter, in the East Oxon; and there it was by some, who delighted in noveltie, drank. When he left Oxon, he sold it in Old Southampton buildings in Holborne neare London, and was living in 1671.

Across the road from The Grand Café a greasy spoon cafe lays claim to be the oldest coffee shop, Queen’s Lane Coffee House Oxford, established 1654.

The Queens Lane Coffee House is reputed to be the oldest continually working coffee house – not only in Oxford but the whole of Europe. It first opened its doors in 1654, in the turmoil following the English Civil War, just before the Great Fire of London. It has been serving Oxford without a break ever since.

A century on from the establishment of Café Procope we have a woman hawking coffee in the street to passers-by.

The arrival of coffee shops in England coincided with the English  Civil War and the rise of Protestantism across Europe.  Water was not safe to drink, the people drank beer, were probably not sober from breakfast onwards. Nutrition was beer and bread, in Germany beer soup.

Coffee was seen by Puritans as The Great Soberer.

When the sweet Poison of the Treacherous Grape,
Had Acted on the world a General Rape;
Drowning our very Reason and our Souls
In such deep Seas of large o’reflowing Bowls,
That New Philosophers Swore they could feel
The Earth to Stagger, as her Sons did Reel:
When Foggy Ale, leavying up mighty Trains
Of muddy Vapours, had besieg’d our Brains;
And Drink, Rebellion, and Religion too,
Made Men so Mad, they knew not what to do;
Then Heaven in Pity, to Effect our Cure,
And stop the Ragings of that Calenture,
First sent amongst us this All-healing-Berry,
At once to make us both Sober and Merry.
Arabian Coffee, a Rich Cordial
To Purse and Person Beneficial,
Which of so many Vertues doth partake,
Its Country’s called Felix for its sake.
From the Rich Chambers of the Rising Sun,
Where Arts, and all good Fashions first begun,
Where Earth with Choicest Rarities is blest,
And dying Phoenix builds Her wondrous Nest:
COFFEE arrives, that Grave and wholesome Liquor,
That heals the Stomach, makes the Genius quicker,
Relieve, the Memory, Revives the Sad,
And chears the Spirits, without making Mad;  …

Coffee houses in England were places to meet, penny universities.

Edward Lloyd opened Lloyd’s Coffee House in London in 1687 or 1688, a meeting place for those in maritime occupations, shipping agents, seamen, insurers, bankers. People went to Lloyd’s to hear the latest news.  Lloyd published a newssheet ‘Lloyd’s News’. From this coffee house evolved Lloyd’s of London.

Tattler was founded in a coffee house. The editor Richard Steele gave his address as the coffeehouse Grecian.

 

Documents c 1700 cite the existence of some three thousand coffee houses in London. [see Tastes of Paradise]

One pound of coffee on the Amsterdam Coffee Exchange  in 1735 would have cost $13-41. Today the cost of green beans around a dollar a pound.  In three hundred years, the price of coffee has fallen thirteen fold.

Liverpool, Bristol, Amsterdam, their wealth was built on sugar, coffee and slavery.  When you grab a takeaway coffee from a corporate chain, a bag of cheap commodity coffee off the supermarket shelf, pick up a bar of industrial chocolate at the checkout, you are supporting the post-colonial legacy of slavery.

Please sit and relax in an indie coffee shop with a coffee served in glass or ceramic, buy coffee from a reputable roastery, chocolate from a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, people who care, who treat coffee and chocolate with the respect it deserves.

A History of Coffee a collaboration between James Harper of  Filter Stories podcast and Jonathan Morris, Professor of History and author of Coffee: A Global History.

Nestle co-defendants in child slavery class action

March 27, 2021

Another example of the evil that is Nestle. Employment of child slave labour on cacao plantations.

Nestle, Cargill, Mars, Mondelēz, Hershey, Barry Callebaut, and Olam are co-defenders in class action brought by former child slaves on cacao plantations.

Children as young as 11 are being trafficked into slavery, harvesting cocoa for global corporations Nestle, Mars, and Hershey.

Tenimba was only 11 years old when a trafficker lured him from his home in Mali to a cocoa plantation in Ivory Coast. He was promised good pay and care. Instead, he worked every day for two years with no pay, no medical care, and no safety measures.

Today there are over 1.5 million child slaves like Tenimba, losing their childhood to supply cocoa to some of the world’s wealthiest global corporations, companies like Nestle, Mars, and Hershey.

Tenimba and seven other former child slaves have brought a lawsuit against these corporations, hoping to get justice for themselves and hundreds of thousands of others.

And do not be fooled by Tony’s Chocolonely, they source low quality industrial chocolate from Barry Callebau, then re-brand it.

Please support bean-to-bar chocolate makers, support small producers who care, who buy direct trade, pay producers higher prices than FairTrade scam, and produce quality chocolate not poor quality industrial chocolate.

From Bean to Bar, a whimsical tour of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Great Britain, is an excellent guide to quality chocolate.

Those taking the action are reliant on funding to successfully conclude this case. Please give them your support.

Note: Mindful Chef a Nestle company, paranoid any mention of Nestlé on their social media posts.

Tony’s Chocolonely slave trade scandal

February 16, 2021

Tony’s Chocolonely are producers of low quality industrial chocolate, only they are not.

Garish wrapping, intriguing division of the bar, the chocolate is produced by multinational Barry Callebau.

Tony’s has an agreement with multinational Barry Callebaut, which produces its chocolate bars via a dedicated production line in Antwerp, but which also admits using cocoa for its own brands which involve child labour.

On 12 2021, IRAdvocates filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of eight Malian young men who managed to escape back to Mali after being trafficked as children and forced to harvest cocoa in Cote D’Ivoire for one or more of the Defendant companies, Nestle, Cargill, Mars, Mondelēz, Hershey, Barry Callebaut, and Olam. These companies have a long history of violating the law and participating in a venture in Cote D’Ivoire that relies upon child slaves to produce cheap cocoa. In 2001, they signed the “Harkin-Engle Protocol” in which they explicitly promised consumers and regulators they would stop using child labour by 2005. Instead, they have given themselves numerous unilateral extensions of time and now claim that by 2025 they will reduce by 70% their reliance on child labour. Rather than make progress, their use of child labour is actually getting worse. In late 2020, a study by NORC at the University of Chicago and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor concluded that 1.56 million child laborers were working in cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in the 2018/19 growing season, an increase of 14 percent since a 2015 study, and 1.48 million child laborers engaged in hazardous work during this period.

Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director of IRAdvocates, which represents the eight Malian Plaintiffs:

By giving themselves this series of extensions, these companies are admitting they ARE using child slaves and will continue to do so until they decide it’s in their interests to stop. Based on the objective record of twenty years of the failed Harkin-Engle Protocol, these companies will continue to profit from child slavery until they are forced to stop. The purpose of this lawsuit is to force them to stop. Enough is enough! Allowing the enslavement of African children in 2021 to harvest cocoa for major multinational companies is outrageous and must end.

The pathetic excuse of Tony’s is engagement.

Slave Free Chocolate has delisted Tony’s.

Vulture Capitalists have a stake in Tony’s.

Tony’s FairTrade and B Corp certified.

If Tony’s cared about the producers, it would be direct trade, pay growers a higher price.

What worth B Corp certification? How bad does the company have to be to not receive B Corp certification?

Mindful Chef, over-priced recipe boxes (it’s cheaper to eat out), overpackaging, obscene use of plastic, appalling service, owned by Nestle, B Corp certified.

Any shop that claims ethical standards should remove Tony’s from their shelves, not respond as one zero waste store ‘it sells’.

What of Oxfam? Will Oxfam remove Tony’s from their shelves?

Please support bean-to-bar chocolate makers, support small producers who care, who buy direct trade, pay producers higher prices than FairTrade scam, and produce quality chocolate not poor quality industrial chocolate.

From Bean to Bar, a whimsical tour of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Great Britain, is an excellent guide to quality chocolate.

Try

Not only chocolate. Support local indie coffee shops. buy coffee beans from reputable roasteries taht focus on direct trade, quality, pay growers a fair price not the Fair Trade scam.

Tony’s Chocolonely call foul on Nestle

January 26, 2021

According to The Grocer, Tony’s claim their chocolates are being blocked from the shelves of Sainsbury’s.

A joke, could not make it up if tried. Two low quality chocolate makers battle for supermarket shelf space. Though stretching it to call either chocolate.

What has caused the problem, other than unfair competition, bullying of a chocolate company by Nestle, is a range of ‘chocolates’ that has the look of other ‘chocolate’ bars to highlight slavery in the chocolate industry. A look that at first glance easily mistook for the originals.

But dear oh dear, look at the long list, the very very long list, of ingredients for the copycat bars from Tony’s.

I hate to have to say it, but Nestle do have grounds for complaint, a publicity stunt by Tony’s passing off their bars of sugar and fat as the genuine article, albeit for a good cause to highlight slavery on chocolate plantations.

Bars of Tony’s sugar and fat can be found in Oxfam, supermarkets and zero waste shops.

Are they ethical? On the shelves of Oxfam no guarantee. A few years ago Oxfam were selling peanut butter bulked out with palm oil, sugar and salt, in a plastic jar. On the shelves until public outcry forced them to not stock.

Extra dark chocolate 70% 180g bar: Belgian FairTrade dark chocolate, 70% minimum cocoa solids, made in Belgium. Nothing exceptional about 70% cocoa mass. Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, fat reduced cocoa powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin).

Emulsifier is used as a cheap substitute for cocoa butter. Soya and palm oil are two of the worst additives in chocolate. Both sourced from plantations where once stood rain forest. Soya, unless organic, has high probability of being GMO.

FairTrade scam. The beans sourced not specified country of origin, and not likely if FairTrade. The FairTrade scam pay a a tiny margin above commodity price. No incentives for growers to improve quality, cocoa is cocoa. Growers maintained in poverty. A marketing ploy to make Middle Class feel good but not question who or where of what they buy.

Luisa deals direct with growers in Colombia pays a high premium for quality cocoa.

Belgium or Swiss plastered across a bar of ‘chocolate’ is no guarantee of quality, any more than gourmet coffee is a guarantee of quality coffee.

Quality chocolate

  • cocoa mass — sugar — vanilla
  • cocoa mass — cocoa butter — sugar — vanilla

The purists will not allow vanilla, others say ok if enhances the quality of the chocolate. A moot point.

Always check the list of ingredients.

Quality chocolate will be bean-to-bar. Anything that is not bean-to-bar paying a lot of money for someone to buy in chocolate and turn into bars.

The accolade for chocolate, an award from the Academy of Chocolate.

In 2020, Luisa, one silver, four bronze, an award for each and every one of her bean-to-bar chocolates. No mean feat.

Coffee and chocolate, speciality coffee roasteries, bean-to-bar chocolate makers, direct trade, not the FairTrade scam. Long term relationships with growers, higher price paid for quality. A win win for everyone.

From Bean to Bar, a whimsical tour of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Great Britain, is an excellent guide to quality chocolate.

Try

Buy chocolate direct from bean-to bar chocolate makers, coffee from a specialty coffee roastery, or from speciality coffee shops.

Steam Yard in Sheffield stock bean-to-bar chocolate in addition to serving excellent food and coffee, Imperial Tea and Coffee half way up Steep Hill in Lincoln purveyors of bean-to-bar chocolate, coffee and tea.

Nestle is an evil corporation, it exploits communities.

The only way to put evil corporations out of business, companies like Nestle and Facebook, is to stop using their services, stop buying their products, stop sharing your personal data.

Nestle owns Mindful Chef, a company that pretends to be ethical, makes no mention of Nestle.

Please sign and share the petition calling for an end to slavery in cocoa production. But remember the only way you can really help, is to buy bean-to-bar chocolate, speciality coffee, direct trade, transparency, where growers are paid a premium for a premium product.

According to a US Department of Labor report published in October 2020, an estimated 1.56 million children – some as young as five – are involved in harvesting cocoa in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the two countries which together supply 70% of the world’s cocoa beans. The proportion of children living in these countries who work on cocoa farms has increased from 31% to 45%.

Tony’s Chocolonely a Dutch chocolate company with around 20% of the Dutch market.

Ethical Consumer January-February 2021 has a feature on chocolate, the focus on industrial chocolate manufactures. A major omission, support local bean-to-bar craft chocolate not Big Businesses, superior chocolate and pay higher price to growers. [see Ethical Chocolate]

We all have a choice. We can sup undrinkable coffee at Costa (owned by Coca-Cola), Starbucks (dodge tax) or we can find an independent specialty coffee shop where they care about coffee, care where it comes from, and if we are lucky may have bean-to-bar chocolate on sale.


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