For many years Jamaica has produced coffee in the Blue Mountains earning the reputation as being the finest and one of the rarest coffees in the world. At 3000ft above sea level, with a high rainfall, long ripening season and the complexity of processing the beans, ensures that only a hardened core of farmers grow coffee.
Accounts of the now famous Blue Mountain Coffee come from as early as 1876, quoting Sir Sibbald David Scott:
“After an excellent dinner, as in fact it was, we adjourned to the garden, and seating ourselves on the terrace overhanging the valley, we sipped our coffee — you know Jamaica coffee is famous — surveyed the enchanting view, and enjoyed the conversation of some most agreeable people….”
Our farm is situated at 3,000ft (1,000m) which is the altitude boundary of the Blue Mountain coffee growing range. We have Banana and Mango trees as our main canopy with Rose Apple, Lotus, Cedar and Jack Fruit more infrequently. In the more open areas we use Bananas and Plantains as the main shade because they grow so fast. Generally the slopes are approximately 30 degrees and the soils are mainly shaley conglomerates. The varieties of coffee we grow is mainly Geisha, Caturra and Numbered varieties with some typica, all from caffea arabica.
Planting seedlings after heavy rain yesterday, July 30th.
Clearing the forest for planting
dWe have two main types of land that can be planted - grassland and forest and in both cases we have taken a more environmentally
sensitive approach to the clearing of the land for coffee planting.
As can be seen in the video above, the grass is not destroyed chemically, but manually cleared on a regular basis which ensures that the soil does not erode. The image shows us clearing forest at the moment, which in the old days would have be almost completely cut down; we believe that the preservation of a mature tree canopy is vital for a good coffee crop and soil preservation.
Currently we have had to do some intense husbandry in order to counter-attack the severe Island-wide berry-borer infestation. This is due to banning of certain pesticides and leaving us farmers to try and do the best we can prior to the bean ripening, such as using traps, complete stripping and pruning.
This year we have succeeded in encouraging a second flowering now, which will produce beans by April.
The video below shows the destruction of the borer.
Currently the Blue Mountain coffee situation is dire as the effects of Hurricane Sandy and then Coffee Rust disease has decimated this years crop. Happily our farm was not affected as we planted mostly varieties and not typica.