Lime Tree Farm is an eco-friendly farm set in the delightful Blue Mountains 3,400 feet above sea level. Run by an affable couple Rodger and Tifony Bolton, visiting their farm is like visiting the home of friends where the air is cool and crisp, the views divine, the tranquility just what the doctor ordered and you’ll feel as if time moves a little slower here. Set in rural Saint Andrew, this is Coffee Country so you can bet that that’s the main crop. Lime Tree Farm offers farm-to-cup coffee tours showcasing the making of Jamaica’s signature Blue Mountain coffee, a brand as unique to Jamaica as champagne is to Champagne, France. However, Lime Tree Farm is so much more than a coffee farm. Day trips for the coffee are great but Lime Tree could easily become a week’s stay or more if time allows. That’s because they offer four eco-friendly cottages, namely Wind, Wood, Water and Lookout, in which rustic mountain charm meets modern conveniences. All four cottages offer unspoilt panoramic views of the rugged Jamaican topography down into the Cedar and Yallahs Valleys and even out to the easternmost tip of Jamaica, the Morant Point, where the lighthouse’s flashing signals can be seen at night. Also, Lime Tree Farm is the mecca for all things Blue Mountain namely hiking several picturesque trails, visiting other mountainside attractions such as Blue Mountain Peak, birdwatching, and admiring Jamaican flora. All but seven of our nearly thirty endemic bird species have been sighted here, and on my first visit I sighted three! Nonetheless, my visit to Lime Tree Farm was to accomplish the first of these available experiences– touring the coffee farm and learning about how centuries-old traditions produce my favourite and one of the world’s most sought-after cups. Here’s how that went:
Starting from Papine, my friend (whose invitation I gladly accepted) and I took a minibus to Mavis Bank for JM$150 where we requested a stop at the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, home of JABLUM. This stop is next to a blue bus stop on your right. A 4WD vehicle or minibus plus 90 minute hike are the only two transport options to Lime Tree Farm, but Rodger was expecting us and offered to meet us in Big Blue, his landrover, that is well-suited to the terrain. In fact, Rodger is very accommodating and often meets guests in Mavis Bank on request but most want to savour the scenery anyway and hike it up, especially considering they can rest well after. The route takes you behind the JABLUM factory, district of Tower Hill then eventually Lime Tree. These were easily the worst roads I’ve ever been on but treated me to among the best views of my life.
Lime Tree Coffee Tour
My tour began with the finished product where I unabashedly drank two cups of the good stuff– home-roasted coffee with a tups of sugar to bring out its mild delicate flavour. We chatted for a bit over coffee and I was brought up to speed on the history, development and vision of Lime Tree. Everything is done by hand from planting, nurturing the crop, picking the cherry red coffee berries, pulping to express two beans per fruit, sun-drying the beans, selecting what makes the cut then roasting, grinding, brewing and my favourite part: drinking.
This tour allows you to join in! That’s the part I felt a bit nervous about. I know a lot of work goes into nurturing the crop not to mention how particular one has to be in pulping and selecting the perfect bean to not affect brand quality, so I’d hate to mess that up by picking immature fruit and the like. I ended up accidentally picking a coffee berry which wasn’t yet ready anyway but good-natured Rodger didn’t seem to mind, quickly correcting me by example and so I got to harvest my first beans!
The beans which aren’t being sold to the factory (where the same steps are done on a larger scale) make it to the next step: laying out the beans in thin layers where the Jamaican sunshine gets them dry and ready for roasting.
Bad beans are thrown out and only the perfect beans make it to the shed where they are roasted then sold as is, or ground, sealed and packaged for the consumer, until the owners need coffee or when lucky guests like myself stop by. I was treated to another interesting of way of brewing coffee then of course, the best part: drinking another cup.
Admiring the Rest of the Grounds
Sensing my love for the Blue Mountains, Rodger took me on a tour of the property so I could admire the verdant slopes, lush ferns, shrubs and blooming things, iridescent hummingbirds and all-around breathtaking views down low into the St. Andrew and St. Thomas valleys from various vantage points. My favourite view was from Water, the cottage just beneath Wind. The only sounds in between our conversations were wind whistling through the valleys and the occasional birdsong. Birds don’t stay still long enough for amateur “phoneography” to capture their splendour but at least the hills and plants do. With that said, enjoy the other photographs I took or used with permission from Lime Tree Farm.
Honestly, my love for the Jamaican Blue Mountains is indescribable. I have so much of it left to see– its streams and rivers, its waterfalls, its remote villages, its trees and its birds. The owners of Lime Tree Farm and I share that in common, except they actually live and work here and get to enjoy this beauty everyday. Their wealth of knowledge about the mountains, their commitment to eco-friendliness, giving back to the surrounding community, hospitality, camaraderie and even just the genuineness of their relationship is admirable. Thus, I rate Lime Tree Farm full stars, ☆☆☆☆☆ and eagerly look forward to returning. And looki here, guess who’s crossed off another bucket list item plus one from 2018’s list? I’ve been meaning to get the farm-to-cup experience for a while since I shouldn’t come from a nation with world-renowned coffee and never enjoy it at the source, right? 🙂
‘Til next time. ✌🏽
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