The Sugar and Coffee War: A Delicious History of Roasteries, Refineries and Rivalries on the Brooklyn Waterfront

New York Public Library
966c7a80 seeable

Taught by Lucie Levine

Lucie Levine is the founder of Archive on Parade, a local tour and event company that aims to take New York’s fascinating history out of the archives and into the streets. She’s a Native New Yorker, and licensed New York City tour guide, with a passion for the city’s fascinating social, political and cultural history.


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Sugar and Coffee have moved Americans to revolt since the Revolution (just ask Abigail Adams). But when almost all of the nation’s sugar was being refined in Williamsburg, and most of its coffee was being roasted in DUMBO, the real Sugar-Coffee War was a Battle of Brooklyn.

This class will explore the history of coffee and sugar in New York. We’ll start from the earliest reference to coffee in America, learn what role New York’s sugar refineries played in the Revolution, and see how our city has been home to outright coffee snobs since at least 1848.

Along the way, we’ll find out why the King of Coffee and the King of Sugar built their empires on the Brooklyn waterfront, and see how a small stretch of land along the East River came to play a huge role in the global economy.

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