Alex James: Bean here, done that. And very nice too

Rural Notebook

Share
Related Topics

We puffed and panted up the mountainside, up the steepest paved road I've ever seen, to the farm next door to the hotel. Normally, you can spot farms a mile off: crops crystalizing out of the randomness of the landscape in regular lattices, but I would have walked right past this one if it hadn't been signposted.

The microclimate here in the Blue Mountains in Jamaica is perfect for growing coffee. After water, coffee is the most popular drink in the world so the coffee bean is the basis of a trillion-dollar industry and is among the most carefully studied and well understood of all crops. There are, for example 10 separate variables involved in judging the quality of coffee. These plunging, almost vertical slopes are where the very best stuff in the world comes from.

Jamaicans call coffee tea and they don't particularly have a taste for it, which all seems ridiculous but then the British don't have a taste for grouse. I've wanted to see coffee growing for as long as I can remember, it's just never been right at the top of my list of things to do next.

It's always fascinating to have things we take for granted framed by where they come from. Normally, I suppose, things that I buy are framed by adverts, by marketing. Say "coffee" and it's hard not to think of a brand before you think of anything else: Lavazza, Starbucks, Nescafe.

Coffee is just a little red bean that is grown by people who often have no shoes or teeth in places that look like paradise. This was one of the most beautiful vistas I've ever seen, an image I'll carry to the grave: a vast, perfectly still green world: potent enough to banish any coffee advertising propaganda from my mind forever.

Junior, our guide, was astonishingly knowledgable and engaging. You could have just plugged him straight into Radio 4 and broadcast everything he said, live. "Y'knaa, ya soun jus laak de singer from Coalplair," he said to me. I had to put him straight on that one.

Rustic hotels — my favourite

There is no hot water at this hotel. There is a fridge in the room, but the door is hanging off. The view and the ambience make all of that seem utterly irrelevant. I think it is my second favourite hotel that I've ever stayed in. My favourite had no electricity either.

Wintry can match tropical

It's hard to believe in snow when you've just picked a tangerine. I'm surrounded by bananas and long-tailed hummingbirds. But Oxfordshire under a deep frost on Saturday morning was actually every bit as pretty as this tropical paradise.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The racist abuse of Mario Balotelli on Twitter is disgusting, but it can be stopped

Anna Jonsson
A survey by Which? found that some of the UK’s biggest airports, including Heathrow, left travellers the most agitated  

Third-runway momentum is gathering. We need to stop it in its tracks

Mary Dejevsky
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments