Big shout to Phil Harmony for linking us up with Jackie and Robert who’ve been running a guest house for the last six years in the fantastic surroundings of The Blue Mountains of St Andrew, Jamaica which is an hours drive from Kingston.
They run the Prince Valley Guesthouse which is at an altitude of 4,000 feet (look at the view below!) alongside running a Blue Mountain coffee farm which is about twenty years old. The coffee bushes are under the canopy of Banana, Mango and many other fruit bearing trees. Running a guest house must be hard enough in itself let alone growing Coffee as well, Jackie and Robert we salute you!
In January the small limbs are trimmed away on each coffee bush and fertiliser (20-20-20 All Purpose) is applied and every other year manure is also added. Insecticide is also applied in the early spring right after the coffee bush flowers. (Later on in the season they are also fertilised with a powder/granular at the roots.)
In March and April the white coffee blossoms start to appear which eventually produce the coffee berries. As the berry ripens it turns from green to a deep cherry red which are often called coffee cherries. The cherries are then ready to be picked around the middle of August.
The picking occurs twice a month and it takes about 6 pickers to do the job. Each tree produces one to two pounds of green coffee, which is what the coffee cherries are referred to before they are roasted, and after they are processed and dried. This is the form coffee is in when it is purchased by a roasting company.
The cherries are picked and put in boxes. Each box holds about 60 pounds of coffee cherries which will be processed into about 12 pounds of green coffee. Those 12 pounds of green coffee, once roasted, will yield about 9.6 lbs of coffee. The bi-monthly yield starts out slowly and at its peak is about 20 to 30 boxes per picking. This continues from August thru November. Our coffee cherries travel to Mavis Bank Coffee Factory where they are purchased and processed. The Jamaican coffee industry employs around 120,000 people making it a significant contributor to the country’s economy.
Good stuff! I personally don’t drink much coffee anymore as it sends me a bit hyper but I do like those naff gaelic coffees you used to get in those quality restaurants like Harvesters in the 70’s.
I also asked, what sort of pests they get in the land of wood and water, and it’s the same sort of stuff we get in the UK but they also get something called the Borer Beetle which is the main pest of the coffee plant. They sometimes hang a coffee borer catcher on the bush filled with a mix of water, soap, strawberry syrup & alcohol. That’s a mad combination!
But look at the flowers of the Blue Mountains, absolutely brilliant, I want some! Thanks for letting us use the pictures, please send us more, they’re great! Thanks again Jackie and Robert!