A not-so-proud episode in the history of coffee is the fact that many slaves were used to harvest the beans in the colonies like Brazil. Women and children harvested and sorted the seeds. Men were forced to prepare the land, plant the trees, prune them and digging irrigation ditches. Later they were joined by poorly paid European immigrants, who worked hard to pay off their debts to the coffee plantation owners (“coffee barons”, who had paid for their passage to Brazil.)