27th
May
2014

Posted in Kafevend Blog

In 1655, an English expedition sent by Cromwell to the West Indies captured the island of Jamaica from its Spanish settlers, following the expedition's disastrous attack earlier in the year at Santo Domingo. Fearing the wrath of Cromwell, the expedition's leaders Robert Venables and William Penn decided to capture the island in a bid to appease him. Whilst they were successful, Cromwell was still not pleased and had them both put in the Tower of London. The capture of Jamaica sparked a war between England and Spain, but following the Treaty of Madrid in 1670 Spain recognised England's ownership of several posessions in the Caribbean, including Jamaica.

Under English rule, Jamaica soon became a big economic success as sugar plantations spread across the landscape. Unfortunately, this success came at the cost of the lives of the many slaves who were brought to the island to work on the plantations. Coffee was introduced in the first half of the 18th century from Haiti and likewise was successful. The turn of the 19th century saw the beginning of the end for the economy of Jamaica as the abolition of the slave trade and slavery itself took place. The Sugar Duties Act in the middle of the century was a further blow to the plantation owners.

Coffee growing subsided along with sugar, though it has carried on through the years since, as the industry passed into the hands of smallholders instead. Over the past few decades, the coffee grown in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica has developed a superb reputation, becoming one of the most expensive and sought after coffees in the world. This success has come in part from the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica, which imposes stringent quality tests on all the coffee before exporting it.

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