History of coffee in Reunion Island


Before the introduction of coffee, Reunion island was mainly populated by adventurers. In order to develop mass coffee farming, the company Malouine, conducted a propaganda in France from 1722.

Thus, the race toward Mascarin begins in order to develop coffee. The island will then be gradually populated. Along the coast from St. Paul in St-Denis, all the lower slopes are occupied and developed.
From 1719 to 1728, the settlers rush towards the south because they are sure to quickly make money with coffee, thanks to a big clearing work done by slaves. Forests fall, properties are created, and thousands of coffee trees grow on the slopes.
The pioneer’s movement begins in Sainte-Suzanne. In 1734, the whole territory, between Rivière du Mât and Rivière Des Roches is granted to the widow Lebeau, at the condition she grows coffee.
St-Malo’s Company, who won in 1722 the monopoly of coffee importation in the kingdom, will do everything to showcase the island and develop this culture. In addition to providing concessions and slaves, it will also buy coffee at a great price and agree in 1722 not to collect a tax of 1 / 10th instead of that of the 1 / 5th.
After a hard time at the beginning, the culture of coffee is significantly extending from 1724 to 1742. In 1724, the Superior Council said that all the concessions where there is no more than 200 trees by slave are sequestred.
Thus, in 1734, coffee was so successful that it was used as money in the country, and that the 15 / 16th of the transactions were made in currency coffee.
However, the Company gradually reduced the purchase price of coffee with the increase of coffee production.
The production reached a peak of 4000 tons in 1800. Then, it fell rapidly due to a series of climatic disasters and the expansion of sugar cane and geranium cultivation.