The Forum: Journal of History


Collin Green


In the United States of America, coffee and its ever-evolving culture has become a focal point of everyday life. However, we did not just stumble upon this phenomenon; the popularity of coffee was carefully calculated by leaders of the wealthiest coffee companies of the early 20th century in America’s biggest city, New York. In this paper, the history of the powerful coffee trading relationship between Brazil and New York is analyzed on two different levels. Firstly, I examine how New York's big coffee companies successfully participated in criminal activity on an international and national level. Secondly, my focus shifts to how this relationship and its economically motivated major players created a cultural change in New York, demonstrated through newspaper advertisements, business openings, and a lifestyle shift for city dwellers. This paper is separated into three main sections: the early history of Brazil and New York’s coffee trading relationship, the forgotten story of crimes committed by New York’s major coffee companies, and the plan for and execution of a cultural boom. My hope is that these findings will expand the historiography of this topic by shining light on the exciting and untold story of greed, power, and cultural development.