St Helena and Napolean’s Coffee

St Helena and Napolean’s Coffee

Jun 08 , 2022

Far out in the South Atlantic, 1700 miles north-east of Cape Town, lies the tiny Island of St Helena. Discovered by the Portuguese, it was a perfect stop-over for ships returning from the East.

A secret to the rest of seafaring world, an East India Officer William Hawkins, famous for his adventurers in Surat, stumbled upon it in 1582.

Nearly a century later in 1659, The Company took possession of the Island by force and some 70 years later than that, a coffee experiment was started. Only being able to buy beans from Mocha represented a commercial challenge, St Helena the opportunity. So, coffee seeds from Mocha were shipped to the island and planted - a fledging coffee industry developed, but it never amounted to much.

It did, however, satisfy the needs of St. Helena’s most famous enforced tenant, Napoleon, imprisoned upon St Helena after the Battle of Waterloo.

He hated the island but loved the coffee and as he later lay dying in 1821, he pleaded for just one final spoonful of St Helena’s coffee.

From then to now, St Helena has been celebrated for its rare and very high-quality coffee, the beans being descendants of these original seeds from Mocha, now commanding incredible prices and prized by connoisseurs.