Translating Coffee: Exploring ‘Notice sur le Chevalier de Clieu et Bibliographie du café

Photo of author

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission if you purchase using these links.

Welcome to the English translation of “Notice sur le Chevalier de Clieu et Bibliographie du café,” by author Louis Du Bois. I’m excited to present this book to you, which explores the fascinating world of coffee and its rich history.

How did I translate it into English?

I used various sources to ensure the translation was accurate and stayed true to the original text during the translation process. I wanted to capture the essence of the French language while making it easy for English speakers to understand.

One of the reasons I undertook this translation is that there wasn’t an existing English version of this book available. I wanted to share the valuable insights and historical references with a wider audience. I believe that knowledge should be shared and celebrated, especially concerning topics as beloved and culturally significant as coffee.

What’s the book about?

“Notice sur le Chevalier de Clieu, et Bibliographie du café” provides a detailed exploration of the accomplishments of Chevalier de Clieu1 and includes an extensive bibliography on the subject of coffee. By reading this book, you’ll have the chance to dive into captivating stories, research, and discoveries about coffee, its origins, how it’s grown, and its cultural significance.

De Clieu Saving His Coffee Plant
Unkown Artist | de Clieu saving his coffee plant

I hope this translation not only serves as an informative resource but also sparks your passion for coffee’s rich history and cultural heritage. Let’s embark on this journey together, exploring the depths of knowledge and embracing the world of coffee through these valuable old sources.


Kelsey Signature

Notice sur le Chevalier de Clieu, et Bibliographie du café

Notice on Chevalier de Clieu, and Bibliography of Coffee.

Most of the details that we are going to give on this courageous importer of the Coffee plant to the West Indies are not found in our historical dictionaries; the Universal Biography itself does not mention his birth, death, first name, or correctly spelled name. Gabriel de Clieu (and not Desclieux), knight, lord, and patron of Dorchigni, Neuvillette, and Anglequesville-sur-Saâne (Seine-Inférieure), was born in 1688. He was, in 1720, an infantry captain in Martinique, when personal affairs called him back to France. More concerned (he says in a letter to the editor of the Literary Year) with the public good than with his own interests, and undeterred by the lack of success of the attempts that had been made for forty years to introduce and naturalize coffee in our islands, he went to great lengths to obtain two young coffee plants from the Jardin des Plantes. It appears that it was as early as 1720, therefore six years after the coffee plant was received in Paris, that the knight of Clieu, who combined his rank of captain with that of a naval ensign, brought the coffee plant to Martinique, from where it then spread to the other Leeward Islands. 

The vicissitudes of this journey are worth recounting. De Clieu watched over the two young coffee plants that Dr. Chirac had obtained for him; he watered them with care; one would say that he sensed the high destiny of one of them. Nothing could save the other. The crossing was long; in vain did De Clieu sacrifice a portion of his water ration for more than a month; one of the young shrubs perished.

“The second one, “which was no bigger than a carnation cutting,” survived, despite the injury inflicted on it by a treacherous passenger. This man, says Chevalier de Clieu, in the letter we have just quoted, jealous of the happiness I was about to taste, of being useful to my country, and not having been able to take this coffee tree from me, tore off a branch.” When he arrived in Martinique, de Clieu planted his young and frail coffee tree which, as he put it very well, had become more precious to him because of the dangers he had run and the care it had cost him. After eighteen or twenty months, he obtained a plentiful harvest, which facilitated the means to multiply the precious shrub, to the point of providing it quite abundantly to Guadeloupe and the French part of St. Domingue. Within less than three years, the coffee trees of our Antilles were counted by the millions. 

In 1746, de Clieu returned to France. He was presented to Louis XV, some time later, by Rouillé de Jouy, Minister of the Navy, a highly merited administrator, who pointed out the merits of a distinguished officer, to whom America, France, and commerce were indebted for the plantation and cultivation of the coffee tree in our main colonies. The generous citizen who had put so much zeal, perseverance, even dedication, and who had spent considerable sums to serve his country and his prince, vainly claimed reimbursement for part of his advances. However, he did obtain some honorable distinctions.

After having been lieutenant-king in Martinique, he was appointed governor of Guadeloupe and created commander of the Order of Saint Louis. He served nearly forty years in the French Colonies, from which he retired honorably poor, having spent for the public good most of the price of three major establishments he had founded in the Antilles. He was so disinterested that he refused a gift of 150,000 francs offered to him by the colonists of Guadeloupe and Martinique so that he could maintain a state commensurate with his rank and merit.”

Note: The French term “lieutenant-de-roi” is a historical term referring to a royal representative in a province or colony, similar to a governor. The term does not translate directly to “lieutenant-king” in how it’s used in the French context.

When de Clieu retired from service, he had been enjoying a pension of 6,000 francs for some time. When Louis XVI ascended the throne, he hastened to repair the wrongs of his predecessor: he sent the benefactor from the Antilles the decoration of the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Louis. Unfortunately, de Clieu, who had just left his retirement where he exercised his benevolence and kindness honorably, that is, without ostentation, with the remaining generous activity that he had once displayed on a larger stage, aged 87 and more, received this favor only on the eve of his death, and the brilliant decoration served only to adorn a coffin.

Finally, under the government of Admiral VillaretJoyeuse, the administration of Martinique erected a monument of gratitude to the memory of de Clieu. This was around 1805 (1). Gabriel de Clieu had died in Paris on November 29, 1774.

Here’s what I read in a note from the Affiches de…

(1) M.D. (See the column in the Gazette de France of April 12, 1816) reports that a Mr. Dorns…, a wealthy Dutchman passionate about coffee, believed he could repay the memory of de Clieu only by having all the details of his navigation and successful outcome painted at great expense on a porcelain service. I have seen these cups… In a final frame, surrounded by coffee plant branches adorned with their flowers and fruits, rises a sepulchral monument on which are written these words: “Nobili Gallico des Clieux qui, divina quadam inspiratione monitus, Coffeam Arabicam, non sine labore, in Americam importavit. Ex quo surculo, totius Europa delicia.”

Normandy (December 1774): “He was loved, respected, and esteemed by all who knew him; he was the father of the poor, especially of large families, marrying and providing dowries for the indigent girls from the neighboring villages of his land. As his days were counted by acts of kindness, he could not fail to be regretted by all who knew him.”

Let us conclude by saying that de Clieu was a useful, generous, and modest citizen, remarkable for his ability and selflessness, preferring the innocence and calm of retirement to the intrigues and greedy pursuits, proud and simple at the same time, finding and knowing how to savor in his own satisfaction the value of his actions, truly noble because they were truly beautiful and great. It is by these titles that he should be remembered by his compatriots, and especially by the gratitude which, as rightly said, is the memory of the heart.


To complete our work on the Coffee Tree and Coffee, we will list the main authors who have written about it. This chronologically ordered list aims to introduce the best works specifically concerning Coffee. Dr. Chaumeton, who, in the Dictionary of Medical Sciences, provided the bibliography of this…

III. NAIRONI (Fauste), Maronite, born in Mount Lebanon, professor of Syriac at the College of Wisdom in Rome, died in 1711: A Discourse on the Most Salutary Beverage Known as Cahve or Coffee. Rome, 1671, 24mo. Ibid. 1675, 12mo. Translated into Italian and French.

IV. FOUR (Philippe-Sylvestre, better known as Du), born in Manosque around 1622, died around 1685, a knowledgeable merchant: New and Curious Treatises on Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate2. Lyon, 1671 and 1684; The Hague, 1685; Lyon, 1688; all in 12mo. The 1671 edition, which was only a kind of version of Naironi’s Discourse, is much less comprehensive than those that followed it. Jacques Spon translated these treatises into Latin, adding various difficult pieces to gather. They were also translated into German and printed in Bautzen in 1686.

V. GALEANO (Joseph), physician from Palermo, born in 1605, died in 1675: Cafe con pia diligenza esaminato. Palermo, 1674, 4to.

VI. MARSIGLI (Louis-Ferdinand), born in Bologna on July 10, 1658, died there on November 1, 1730: De potione asiatica, seu notitia a Constantinopoli circa plantam quæ calidi potus Coave subministrat materiam. Vienna, Austria, 1685, 12mo.

VII. MAPPUS (Marc), born in Strasbourg in 1632, died in 1701: De potu Coffea. This inaugural dissertation was printed in Strasbourg in 1693, 4to.

VIII. FELLON (Thomas-Bernard), born in Avignon on July 12, 1672, died on March 25, 1759, published Faba.

D’Olivet collected it in his precious collection of Poemata didascalica.

IX. GALLAND (Antoine), born in Rollot, near Montdidier, in 1646, died on February 17, 1715, member of the Academy of Inscriptions and professor of Arabic at the Royal College: Letter on the Origin and Progress of Coffee; excerpt from an Arabic manuscript from the Royal Library, 1696. Treatise on the Origin of Coffee. Caen, 1699, 12mo.

X. ANDALORI (André): Il Cafè descritto ed esaminato. Messina, 1703, 12mo. A ridiculous treatise in which the author tries to prove that the virtue of coffee comes less from the coffee bean itself than from the hot water used.

XI. JUSSIEU (Antoine de), born in Lyon on July 6, 1686, died in Paris on April 22, 1758, member of the Academy of Sciences: History of Coffee; a report read to the learned society in 1713; a work that he corrected and expanded based on the observations he made on the coffee tree sent from Holland to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris in 1714. In this state, Jussieu read his completed work to the Academy on March 4, 1715, which was printed in the volume published by the Academy for 1713.

XII. ROQUE (Antoine de La), born in Marseille in 1672, died in Paris in 1744: Voyage to Arabia Felix in 1708, 1709, and 1710, with the particular account of a journey from the port of Mocha to the court of the King of Yemen in the second expedition of 1711, 1712, and 1713. These accounts are followed by: 1. A Memoir concerning the coffee tree and fruit, based on the observations of those who made this last voyage; 2. A historical treatise on the origin and progress of coffee, both in Asia and Europe, its introduction to France, and the establishment of its use in Paris. Paris, 1715, 12mo. In this last work, all the writers who have wanted to speak about the coffee tree and coffee in the various writings published in France have drawn from. In the Mercure of September 1741 (p. 1965-1982), La Roque published a letter praising the usefulness of coffee, but it did not provide any useful or curious information.

XIII. FAGON (Gui-Crescent), born in Paris in 1638, died there in 1718; physician and naturalist: Litteratisne salubris Café usus? Inaugural dissertation in which the author affirms the affirmative and proves his opinion. Paris, 1716, 4to. Reims, 1790, same format.

XIV. PLAZ (Antoine-Guillaume): De potus Coffea abusu, catalogum morborum augente. Leipzig, 1723, 4to. Dissertation.

XV. FISCHER (Jean-André): De potus Coffea usu et abusu. Dissertation published in 1725 in Erfurt, 4to.

XVI. BRETON (Le), Jesuit missionary in Martinique: Observations on the plant that bears coffee. Journal de Trévoux; March 1726, p. 466-469.

XVII. ALBERTI (Michel): De Coffeæ potus usu noxio. Halle, 1730, 4to. Dissertation.

XVIII. FÈVRE (Jean-François Le), a physician in Besançon: Treatise on the nature, use, and abuse of coffee, 4to. This work, which we don’t have at hand, is written in Latin.

XIX. MASSIEU (Guillaume), born in Caen on April 13, 1665, died in Paris on September 26, 1722: Caffaum, carmen, printed in the collection titled Poetarum ex Academia Gallica, qui latine aut græce scripserunt Carmina. Paris, 1738, 12mo, and in Poemata didascalica.

XX. GEYER (E.-E.): An potus Café dicti vestigia in hebræo Sacræ Scripturæ codice reperiantur? Affirmative dissertation. Wurtemberg, 1740, 4to.

XXI. JUSSIEU (Joseph de), physician and botanist: Litteratisne salubris Caffea usus? An inaugural dissertation on the same subject that Fagon had addressed in 1716. Paris, 1741, 4to.

XXII. BONA (Jean della): Dell uso e dell abuso del Cafe. Historical and medical dissertation (against coffee). Venice, 1761, 4to.

XXIII. SPARSCHUCH (Henri): Potus Coffea; inaugural dissertation (Upsala, 

1761, 4to.), printed in Amanitates academica by Linnaeus; a scholarly work full of curious facts. After extensively discussing coffee, the author proposes several substitutes, which are as ineffective as all those that were attempted to be popularized and put into practice at the beginning of this century.

XXIV. CALVET (Esprit-Claude-François): An potus Caffé quotidianus valetudini tuendæ vitæque producendæ noxius? Affirmative dissertation. Quæstio medica ex hygiene deprompta: Response by Joseph-Marie Collin. Avignon, 1762, 4to.

XXV. MONNIER (Louis-Guillaume Le), born in Paris in 1717, died on September 7, 1799: Letter on the cultivation of coffee. Paris, 1773, 12mo.

XXVI. CLIEU (Gabriel de), not Desclieux as written everywhere, was born in Upper Normandy in 1688 and died in Paris on November 29, 1774. It is to him that we owe the interesting details of the importation he made in 1720 of the first coffee tree to Martinique. These details can be found in a letter he wrote on February 22, 1774, to Fusée-Aublet, who included it in his Observations on the cultivation of coffee; details that de Clieu also sent to Fréron, who published them in his Année Littéraire.

XXVII. BARROTTI (Laurent), Italian clergyman: Il Cafè, canti due. Parma, royal printing press, 1781. This poem is announced in the Esprit des Journaux of December 1781 (p. 110-120).

XXVIII. BOEHMER (Georges-Rodolphe), professor of botany at the University of Württemberg: De variis Coffea potum parandi modis. Württemberg, 1782, 4to. Dissertation.

XXIX. MOSELEY (Benjamin), Doctor of Medicine, English: A treatise on coffee. London, 1785, 8vo. The following year, it was translated into French, based on the third English edition, by F. Le Breton, who added Observations by Fusée-Aublet on the cultivation of the coffee tree. Paris, 1786, 12mo. It is a complete apology of coffee.

XXX. GENTIL (André-Antoine), born in Pêmes (Doubs) in 1731, died in Paris in 1800, Bernardin: Dissertation on the nature and use of coffee. This work, which we don’t have at hand, is written in Latin.

XXXI. New Year’s gift to all coffee lovers; containing the history, description, cultivation, and properties of this plant; it includes the French translation of Massieu’s Latin poem on coffee. Paris, 1790, 2 parts in 1 vol., 12mo. For the historical part, it reproduces the documents collected by La Roque. The author, who wrongly presents Massieu’s poem as rare, was unaware of Fellon’s poem on the same subject.

XXXII. CADET DE VAUX (Antoine-Alexis), born in Paris on January 13, 1743, died in Nogent-les-Vierges on June 20, 1828: Dissertation on coffee, its history, properties, and the process for obtaining the most pleasant, healthful, and economical beverage; followed by its analysis by Charles-Louis Cadet, pharmacist to the Emperor. Paris, 1806, 12mo.

XXXIII. MÉRY (M.C. de): Le Café, a poem accompanied by historical documents, medical and hygienic observations. Paris and Rennes, 1837, 18mo. This poem in two chants occupies a small space in M. de Méry’s work, who tastefully brings together various information about the coffee plant and its fruit, which is scattered among many authors.

XXXIV. TRIFET (M. le D.), laureate of the Faculty of Paris: Du Café, its effects on man and the reproductive organs; sterility, impotence; its effectiveness against stomach ailments, difficult digestion, headaches, asthma, and various poisonings. Paris, 1847, 8vo.

XXXV. THÉRY, rector of the Academy of Clermont. Translation, in French verse, of Guillaume Massieu’s Latin poem, printed following the author’s biography. Caen, Hardel, 1854.

Since we have a blank page remaining, we will provide Mr. Louis Du Bois’s colleagues and the public, who owe him significant works, with a more complete idea of the Encyclopedia of Coffee Lovers, which we have at hand. Here is the division of the book into ten chapters:

Ch. 1. History of coffee. II. Introduction of coffee to Europe. Continuation of its history. III. Production and trade of coffee. IV. Plant physiology and description of the coffee tree. V. Cultivation of the coffee tree. VI. Analysis of coffee. VII. Roasting and further analysis. VIII. Brewing and various uses. IX. Ancient preparations. X. Dietary effects of coffee.

In addition to the Notice and Bibliography that have been read, Mr. Louis Du Bois’s manuscript contains a selection of literary pieces and anecdotes about coffee. We will skip the anecdotes and focus on the literary pieces.

They include the Latin poems of Fellon and Massieu, along with a fragment from Prædium Rusticum by Vanière, translated from Latin to French prose by Mr. Du Bois, the translator of Columella (3 vol., 8vo.) in the second series of Panchoucke. It also includes “Éloge du Café,” a song in 24 couplets, first printed in Paris by Jacques Estienne, 4to., in 1711; “La Cafetière renversée” by Lainez, published in the Journal de Verdun, March 1753; “Le Café,” a fragment from the fourth chant of “La Grandeur de Dieu dans les merveilles de la nature” by Dulard of Marseille; “Sur de Clieu et le Cafier” by Esménard, excerpt from the 60th chant of the poem “La Navigation”; “Le Café,” a fragment from the fourth chant of “La Gastronomie” by Berchoux; “A mon Café,” stanzas by Ducis; “Le Café,” a fragment from the poem “Les trois régnes de la nature” by J. Delille; “Le Café,” anonymous stanzas, included in the poetic “Macédoine” of 1824, 48mo; “Sur le Café” by the Marquis de Langle, excerpt from his “Voyage en Espagne,” which had the undeserved honor of six editions from 1785 to 1796 due to a condemnation by the Parliament.

(Note from the Secretary of the Academy.)

(Excerpt from the Memoirs of the Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Belles-Lettres de Caen.)


  1. Wikipedia contributors. (2023, June 15). Gabriel de Clieu. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:00, June 16, 2023, from
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

Leave a Comment