Coffee was introduced in Haiti in 1725, and, after sugar cane, became the mainstay of the national economy after the country won its independence in 1804. Despite dwindling exports in the past two decades, coffee remains one of the pillars of the Haitian economy. Growing Haitian coffee requires more than 100,000 hectares of land (3.6 % of the territory), and employs from 175,000 to 200,000 families.
Haitian coffee, or the “Haitian Black Pearl”, pride of the nation of Haiti, is famous for its rich taste and various aromas, and has always interested the international importers. Haitian coffee is mainly of the Typica variety, which comes from the original Ethiopian family of arabicas. Typicas have become rare in the American tropics, and are oriented toward a more gourmet niche.
Typica Arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, being grown in southwest Ethiopia for well over 1,000 years.
Typica Arabica is said to produce better tasting coffee than the other major commercially grown coffee species, Coffea canephora (robusta), because robusta cherries contain twice as much caffeine as arabica. Caffeine itself has a bitter taste, making robusta more bitter. Arabica contains less caffeine than any other commercially cultivated species of coffee, about 40–50% less.
Haiti's coffee plants remain effectively unchanged from the earliest trees brought to the Western Hemisphere. As a result, Shade grown Haitian direct trade coffee is unique from coffee produced anywhere else in the world.