Coffee, Mon! Rohan Marley's Dream Of A Coffee Company - New York News

Coffee, Mon! Rohan Marley's Dream Of A Coffee Company

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Perhaps you haven't thought much about what it takes to get you that steaming cup of coffee; I know I hadn't.  And, then I traveled to Jamaica for a blitz trip to meet Bob Marley's son, Rohan and visit his farm in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.  i say blitz because I went from LA to Kingston, into the Blue Mountains and finished the trip in Montego Bay in three days.   (I actually didn't see much of Montego Bay, my flight back to LA was canceled and so, I was driven in the middle of the night to catch the first flight out of Kingston.  But I digress.)  

Rohan Marley jokes that unlike his siblings, he didn't inherit his father's musical talent.  And, so, he says, he embodies his father's other passion.  Bob Marley said, that he would one day stop playing music and just farm.  He died, before he could do that, but now Rohan has made his father's dream his own.  But he also runs Marley Coffee to honor his father and his Rastafarai beliefs.  That means, growing and processing coffee in a way that sustainable and not harmful to the land or his workers. 

To get to the Marley Coffee farm in Chepstowe,  you have to travel up a scary mountain road, where the Jamaican drivers jockey for position on the not quite two lane road.  The Marley farm is 52 acres with coffee and banana trees, a rough soccer field, a river and not much else.  Oh, except mosquitos.  There are lots of mosquitos on the Marley farm and they all found and bit me!  But that's in part because Rohan's farm is organic and pesticide free, even fertilizer free. 

The workers are grateful to Marley Coffee for giving them jobs and a fair wage.  I asked one man, Bob Junior Ellis if Mr. Marley was a good boss and he answered in exactly how you imagined,  "Yah, mon." 

On the farm,  I was shown how they can take a ripe coffee berry, strip it down to the bean and plant it in the soil to eventually sprout and grow into a plantable tree.  I was given my own tree to plant and some day I hope to go back to see how that little coffee plant is doing.  It take three to four years to bear fruit, so Rohan, I'll be back in Chepstowe in 2017.  

The workers hand pick the red, ripe coffee berries to process into your coffee beans.  They separate the good beans from the bad with water, and eventually return the water to the river without added pollution.  The beans are transported to Kingston where the drying process begins, first on "concrete bbq's" or what others would call a concrete patio.  Workers rake and rotate the beans by hand, starting early in the morning and finishing before the Jamaica sun gets too hot and too drying.  Marley Coffee's Jason Sharp says the coffee bean is alive.  There's an embryo inside and that's what gives coffee it's aroma and flavor.  The beans are finished in drying machines.  And, the fuel for the machines is actually the parchment skins that come off the beans.  The dried green beans are then sorted by hand.  It's a labor intensive job and Marley Coffee hires so many to do it, the company is the largest employer in the inner city of Kingston. Eventually, the green beans are packed in hand made barrels and shipped to roasters in the U.S. and Canada.  You can find Marley Coffee at Whole Foods and Ralphs.

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