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1. 1400’s Arabica coffee is cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula

2. 1616 The Dutch acquire coffee trees or live seeds

3. 1699 The Dutch take trees to Java and other islands in the

East Indies

4. 1700’s Coffee is cultivated in Central America and the


5. 1718 The French take coffee to Réunion

6. 1723 G. M. de Clieu takes a coffee tree from France to


7. 1800’s Coffee is cultivated in Hawaii

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When coffee first arrived in Europe in the 17th century, some Catholic priests branded it a concoction of Satan. They saw it as a potential substitute for wine, which, in their view, had been sanctified by Christ. Pope Clement VIII, though, allegedly tasted the beverage and became an instant convert, notes the book Coffee. He resolved the religious dilemma by symbolically baptizing the brew, thereby making it acceptable for Catholics.

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“Raw coffee beans are the seeds of plants belonging to the Rubiaceae family, which comprises at least 66 species of the genus Coffea,” says the journal Scientific American. “The two species that are commercially exploited are Coffea arabica, which accounts for two thirds of world production, and C[offea] canephora, often called robusta coffee, with one third of global output.”

Robusta coffee has a strong, earthy aroma and usually ends up in soluble form in instant coffees. The tree is high yielding and disease resistant. It grows to about 40 feet [12 m], double the height of the unpruned, more delicate, and lower-yielding arabica tree. By weight, the robusta bean has up to 2.8 percent caffeine, whereas arabica never exceeds 1.5 percent. Even though arabica has 44 chromosomes and robusta and all wild coffees have 22, some have been crossed to produce hybrids.

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Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, a French naval officer on leave in Paris, made it his personal mission to take a tree to his estate on Martinique on his return voyage from France. He sailed for the island in May 1723 with a descendant of the Paris tree.

For the trip, de Clieu placed his precious plant in a box made partly of glass so that the tree could absorb sunlight and remain warm on cloudy days, explains All About Coffee. A fellow passenger, who may have been envious of de Clieu and who did not want him to enjoy the glory of success, tried to wrest the plant from him but failed. The tree survived. It also survived the ship’s encounter with Tunisian pirates, a violent storm and, worst of all, a shortage of fresh water when the ship became becalmed in the Doldrums. “Water was lacking to such an extent,” wrote de Clieu, “that for more than a month I was obliged to share my scanty ration with the plant upon which my happiest hopes were founded and which was the source of my delight.”

De Clieu’s devotion was rewarded. His charge arrived in Martinique in good health, and it thrived and multiplied in the tropical environment. “From this single plant, Martinique supplied seed directly or indirectly to all the countries of the Americas except Brazil, French Guiana and Surinam[e],” states Gordon Wrigley in his book Coffee.

Meanwhile, Brazil and French Guiana also wanted coffee trees. In Suriname, the Dutch still possessed descendants of the Amsterdam tree but kept them closely guarded. In 1722, however, French Guiana obtained seeds from a felon who had escaped into Suriname and stole some seeds. In exchange for his seeds, the authorities in French Guiana agreed to give him freedom, and they repatriated him.

Initial, furtive attempts to get viable seeds or seedlings into Brazil failed. Then Suriname and French Guiana became involved in a border dispute and asked Brazil to provide an arbitrator. Brazil dispatched Francisco de Melo Palheta, an army officer, to French Guiana, instructing him to settle the dispute and to bring home some coffee plants.

The hearings were a success, and the governor gave Palheta a farewell banquet. As a gesture of appreciation for this guest of honor, the governor’s wife presented Palheta with a beautiful bouquet. Hidden among the flowers, however, were viable coffee seeds and seedlings. Hence, it could be said that in 1727, Brazil’s now billion-dollar coffee industry was born in a bouquet.

Thus, the young tree that went from Java to Amsterdam in 1706, together with its offspring in Paris, furnished all the planting material for Central and South America. Explains Wrigley: “Consequently the whole genetic base of the arabica coffee industry is very narrow.”

Today, over 25 million family farms in some 80 countries grow an estimated 15 billion coffee trees. Their product ends up in the 2.25 billion cups of coffee that are consumed each day.

Ironically, the problem nowadays is overproduction of coffee. The picture is complicated by politics, economics, and powerful cartels, all of which have left growers in many lands poor or even destitute. This situation is amazing, especially when we picture de Clieu sharing his precious ration of water with one little tree nearly 300 years ago

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A Bean That Traveled the World

The story of one man’s devotion to a sapling coffee tree has been described as “the most romantic chapter in the history of the propagation of the coffee plant,” says the book “All About Coffee.” That one small plant played a major role in seeding today’s $70-billion-a-year coffee industry, which is surpassed only by petroleum in terms of dollars traded globally, according to the journal “Scientific American.”

THE fascinating story of coffee begins in the highlands of Ethiopia, the home of the wild coffee plant. Its descendants, named Coffea arabica, account for two thirds of world production. Exactly when the properties of the roasted bean were discovered, however, is uncertain. Nevertheless, arabica coffee was being cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula by the 15th century C.E. Despite a prohibition on the export of the fertile bean, the Dutch acquired either trees or live seeds in the year 1616. They soon established plantations in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and Java, now part of Indonesia.

In 1706 the Dutch transported a young tree from their estates in Java to the botanical gardens in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The tree flourished. Its descendants were then shipped to Dutch colonies in Suriname and the Caribbean. In 1714 the mayor of Amsterdam gave King Louis XIV of France one descendant. The king had it planted in a greenhouse at the Jardin des Plantes, the Royal Garden, in Paris.

The French were eager to enter the coffee trade. They purchased seeds and trees and shipped them to the island of Réunion. The seeds failed to grow, and according to some authorities, all but one of the trees eventually died. Nevertheless, 15,000 seeds from that one tree were planted in 1720, and a plantation was finally established. So valuable were these trees that anyone found destroying one was subject to the death penalty! The French also hoped to establish plantations in the Caribbean, but their first two attempts failed.

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Love “Will Cool Off”

In his great prophecy on “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus accurately foretold the conditions and trends of our day. He said that the world would be marked by lawlessness and wars—the very opposite of love! He also said that “many . . . will betray one another and will hate one another” and that “the love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matthew 24:3-12) Do you not agree that the world has grown colder and that genuine love is lacking, even within families?

In addition to Jesus’ words, the apostle Paul gave a detailed social profile, as it were, of “the last days.” He wrote that people would be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) In many lands those traits have become very common.

Think: Are you drawn to proud, unthankful people, to those who are disloyal, who will slander or betray you? Do you warm to individuals who are in love with themselves, with money, or with pleasures? Because self-centered people allow greed and personal desires to define and govern their relationships, any interest they show in others is likely to be selfish. Wisely, the Scriptures counsel: “From these turn away.”2 Timothy 3:5.

Note, too, the statement that people living in the last days would have “no natural affection” or that, as another translation puts it, they would “lack normal affection for their families.” Sadly, an increasing number of children are growing up in homes like that. Often, what these young ones learn about love they pick up from the media. But do the media paint an accurate picture of love, one that will really produce better relationships?

Fantasy Love or the Real Thing?

To some degree most of us are influenced by the media. One researcher wrote: “From the time we’re very young, we’re barraged with fairy-tale depictions and hard-to-break stereotypes of sex, love, and romance in the popular culture—movies and television, books and magazines, radio and recorded music, advertising, and even the news.” She also explained: “Most mass media portrayals of sex, love, and romance shape or reinforce unrealistic expectations that most of us can’t dismiss completely. They make us dissatisfied with our real partners as well as with ourselves.”

Yes, books, movies, and songs rarely present an accurate picture of love. After all, their purpose is primarily to entertain, not to educate. Thus, writers churn out blends of fantasy and romance that will bring in the money. Sadly, though, it is easy to confuse such fiction with reality. Hence, people are often disappointed when their relationships do not match those of fictional characters. So how can we distinguish between fantasy and reality, between media romance and genuine love? Consider the following comparisons.

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Why True Love Is Hard to Find

There is no shortage of advice on romantic love. Therapists and counselors offer guidance. Talk shows on television often consider the subject.

ON THE Internet numerous Web sites claim to offer enlightenment on how to find love. You might be told that you will discover “fascinating and incredible secrets” and will learn from “professional matchmakers,” “relationship experts,” and “love doctors,” not to mention psychotherapists, psychologists, and astrologers.

The topic of love also sells books and magazines, some of which make extravagant promises. For example, one book claims to show you “how to make anyone fall in love with you.” Another offers to reveal how you can find “the perfect partner in just one month.” Is a month too long? Then another divulges how “in 90 minutes or less,” you can make someone love you forever.

Much of the advice comes at a price. And many people pay twice. They pay money to receive counsel. Then, when the guidance turns out to be flawed, as it often does, they pay emotionally when things don’t work out as expected.

There is, however, one source of advice that when applied never fails. Moreover, it discusses the subject truthfully, without making wild claims and unrealistic promises. Though it was written long ago, its counsel is never outdated. Its Author is both peerless in wisdom and matchless in love. Perhaps you already own a copy of this special gift—the Holy Bible. No matter what our circumstances or background, the Bible teaches us what we need to know about love. And its counsel is free.

Will the Bible enable us to have a good relationship with everyone? No. Some people will not warm to us, no matter how hard we try. And genuine love cannot be forced. (Song of Solomon 8:4) However, by applying the Bible’s guidance, we will increase our opportunities of cultivating loving relationships with others, even though this may take time and effort. This aspect of love will be discussed in the next article, but first, consider why true love is becoming harder to find these days.