Clifton Mount is a well managed coffee farm owned by the Sharpe family which has created a vertically integrated business serving the entire spectrum of coffee buyers, from the premium green bean wholesale importers in Japan, to local hotels and direct exports. The company's Coffee Traders brand is among the most respected of all Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee estates, and its Café Blue coffee shops are among the island's most popular pit stops for the well-heeled on their way to work, or for a light lunch.
The Blue Mountains
The highest mountain range in Jamaica, the Blue Mountains harbor a rich history, having provided refuge for runaway slaves, transplanted French-Haitian coffee farmers, and even Bob Marley, when he sought safety and seclusion at Strawberry Hill following the attempt on his life in 1976. Today the area attracts visitors principally for its lush nature, colorful birdlife, delicious coffee, and fresh air.
Blue Mountain Peak, the highest point in Jamaica at 2,256 meters, offers a stunning view of five parishes: Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland, and St. Mary. The Blue Mountain range forms a physical barrier to the northeasterly weather fronts that frequently descend on the island, giving Portland and St. Thomas especially copious amounts of rainfall compared to the southern coastal plains of Jamaica, where drought is common.
During the rainy season (October and November), the mountain peaks often cloud over by mid-morning. Skies are clearest June–August and December–March.
Within an hour's drive from Kingston, Irish Town, Hardwar Gap, and Mavis Bank are great destinations for a quick escape from the urban jungle. This is where rural Jamaica is at its coolest. The elevation and lush greenery are a welcome retreat from the heat on the plains and foothills around Town. The road up and the rugged terrain are not for the faint of heart, but the prized Blue Mountain coffee, breathtaking views, diverse vegetation, and abundance of native birds are more than adequate rewards, and few are sorry for making the effort.
Moon Jamaica+Reservations offers the best of the Blue Mountain Culinary Trail in Express, Half-day and Full-day Blue Mountain Coffee Tour packages, with or without transport from Kingston. Please inquire if you need transport from elsewhere in Jamaica.
Colin Smikle offers a tour he dubs "Blue Mountain in a Hurry" (US$150 for one or two persons with their own vehicle, US$200 for two in his ride), where he’ll guide hikers up and down in a day.
Many travelers find letting a tour operator take care of the driving is the easiest, most hassle-free way to get around the island. One of the most dependable and versatile tour companies on the island is Barrett Adventures. Barrett can pick you up from any point on the island, getting off the beaten path more often than any other tour company in Jamaica. Barrett also books many of the best budget accommodation options across the island, including a few spots in the Blue Mountains.
Craighton Estate Blue Mountain Coffee Tour (8am-4pm daily, US$25 adults, US$15 children 6-12 years old, local rate JMD 2,000 adults, JMD 1,000 children), owned by Japan-based Ueshima Coffee Company, offers a one-hour tour featuring a walk around the working coffee farm and historic great house. Ueshima is one of the foremost exporters of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee to Japan, the leading foreign market for the prized product.
Jill Byles, a retired horticultural enthusiast who lives at Guava Ridge near Mavis Bank, offers tour guide services (US$50 per day regardless of group size) on hiking trails in the area. Jill can guide visits to Cinchona, Flamstead, and Governor’s Bench, a footpath named after Governor Alexander Swettenham, who lived at Bellevue, a great house in the hills now owned by the University of the West Indies that’s used for retreats and visitor accommodations.
Belcour Lodge (10 minutes from Papine in Maryland, reservation required) is a beautiful private, colonial-era home set in a lovely river valley amid expansive gardens. Robin and Michael Lumsden offer Culinary Tours that include a stroll around the yard. Visitors will find an apiary with 50 colonies, a citrus orchard, and an abundance of other fruit trees. Robin and Mike markets Belcour Blue Mountain Honey, as well as Belcour fruit preserves, chutneys and spicy pepper sauces, produced on a cottage-industry scale from all natural, local ingredients.