When Coffee Met Politics (And Protests)

While the sight of a coffee shop is a common one in England as much as anywhere else in the world, there is no denying that U.S. citizens consume much more coffee than they do tea, which is indeed prevalent in Great Britain – and we owe this difference to, once again, history.

If you read this far, you’ll know by now that the flight of Baba Budan is at the origin of the spreading of coffee plantations. But are you aware that there is the Boston Tea Party behind the reason why coffee is so beloved over the Pond?

As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until 1773 that coffee became really popular in the Americas: coffee shops were a rare sight even when their counterparts in Europe had started to flourish (way back in the 17th century), at least until the mounting protest against the British for the taxes they imposed on the colonies in the New World. Things famously came to a head with the dumping of tea chests in the harbour of Boston, but even before that, political action against the King meant that coffee was chosen as the anti-England drink of choice: after all, buying and consuming less tea meant that fewer taxes had to be paid to the Commonwealth of Nations!

Thus a long love story began. Nowadays the most famous coffee shop chains all originate in the United States or Canada (with some of them born and bred in the UK – how’s that for irony?), and have spread far and wide in places of the Earth where English isn’t even spoken. Political wars are still fought over coffee, just not in sensational ways like in the port of Boston: campaigns against unjust taxation target companies selling coffee rather than the King, or push to have organic coffee beans sold in the shops, grown in an ethical way. What never changes is the craze around this drink!

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