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

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

Amanda Hess
Armed RCMP officers approach Centre Block on Parliament Hilll  

Ottawa shooting: A shock attack in a peaceful nation

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right