Blue Mountain Coffee Insight

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
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Trip End Apr 25, 2012


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Flag of Jamaica  ,
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thanks to the coffee contact in Kingston I had received through my relatives in Switzerland who are in the coffee business, I was invited to a visit a farm and a factory in the famous Blue Mountains where some of the world's best coffee is grown.
I was picked up by the son of Mr. Shirley, we first drove to the office where I met the other son, some more people and of course Mr. Shirley to whom I had talked before on the phone. What a warm welcome from people I had never met before! They had been travelling to many places in the world themselves and always appreciated the local hospitality too.
Mr. Shirley and I left then and with a good car and a good driver on very bad roads we reached the Blue Mountains in about an hour. The name of the Blue Mountains comes from the clouds in which the up to above 2000 meters high hills are usually covered. Mr. Shiley's organic farm we visited, is called Saint Clouds. It was much different than what I had expected because I had the mass tea or banana plantations in mind I had seen in other countries before. Different to those, the Saint Clouds farm has coffee plants growing spread across a hilly area, many other plants growing in between and around too, I had the pleasure to try various fresh fruits around. In addition the farms also includes some animals like cows, goats, pigs and chicken. We met the farm manager who is called Queenie, apparently woman do a better job there, men are too lazy I was explained.
Of course I learned about the coffee plants, in few days most of them would be in full blossom, but I already got a little taste of the wonderfull smell in which the hills would soon be covered. A bigger picking peak was just over, so there were no ripe cherries left on the plants, the last pickers were right about to leave when we arrived, but the next little green cherries were already growing. Since the climate is fairly stable, the coffee keeps growing year round.
I found it wonderful up there, very peaceful.
We then moved on to a processing factory, Stoneleigh, which is located in another sidevalley. The factory manager guided me through the whole processing from drying (outside in the sun, called barbecue), resting, over cleaning and sorting (there are many steps and machines included), quality controls until the final packing. The top coffee is packed into barrels which was new to me, I only knew the bags so far.
The whole infrastructure is amazing for being in the the middle of nowhere up in the hills.
Had we not eaten all those fresh fruits on the farm, I would have been starving in the meantime, but with my stomach full of banana, mango, peaches etc. I was glad we only reached back for lunch late.
We met Mr. Shirley's sons for lunch at Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records, a very modern and innovative restaurant, lounge, sports bar concept they have built up with some more friends. Monitors, a big screen which can be lifted and has a stage for live acts behind and  for me the first time I have seen dining tables with built in internet touch screens, nearly forgot that I am in Jamaica. I got a tour through the whole club including backstage and kitchen, btw, they also have lunch promotion to serve food in less then 9.58 minutes (Usain Bolt's 100m world record (in seconds of course)), else they don't charge it. The whole decoration including bathrooms is really stylish. Cool that I did get this Kingston experience too.
A talented business family!
And most friendly and kind persons. I appreciated them taking their time for me and hope to welcome them in Switzerland next time.
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