Coffee Living in Paradise: Part I

Coffee Living in Paradise: Part I

Become a real Barista!
Living in Paradise: Part I

Even paradise has its down-sides:

Apart from the more obvious things, like tropical storms, and hurricanes, there are many other "little" things that are just annoying: with Jamaica still being a "third-world" Country, we just do not get the levels of service which are considered the "norm" in most places around the world.

I am sure that some of you, my esteemed readers, after reading some of my articles, have to wonder what I am complaining about! Sure, the up-sides of living here more than compensate for the occasional down-sides. As writing this, I have had no internet connection, for 14 days; neither of my modems are working, due to "network problems": I know the reason for one of them not working, the locals have thieved all the diesel oil from the cell tower generator ( but I do not understand why it is not working from the mains power?? ): the other modem, I have no idea as to why it won't work; phone the operating company, and get nothing but obfuscation, no one will tell me what is wrong, no one can advise me on what to do, they won't even admit that there is any problem!! The best I can get is for them to refer my problem to their "technical department" who will call me back; within 24 hours: even using "Jamaican" time scales. over 6 weeks ( and still waiting ) seems to stretch even that to the limit!!

Then we get some excellent news: new player in the internet market: a phone call, and 2 days later I am fixed up with a full 3G connection: several weeks and NO problems!

5Just take a walk through the plantation, and my garden: always full of colourful flowers, some seasonal, some flower all year round. In the summer we get thousands of blooms on the Agapanthus ( Blue Nile Lily ), intermixed with the red flowers of wild Ginger, and Hippeastrum, masses of red and yellow looms on the Heliconia (Banana flower ); blooms that last for months; the blues and yellows of dozens of other ( unidentified ) plants: masses of white blooms on the Datura, and I am waiting for a newly planted, yellow one to flower: night time, and the sweet scent of the night Jasmine permeates the air all through the house and garden. The pink and white Hibiscus flowers, the purples of the Azaleas, blue Hydrangeas, range and yellow lilies, deep red Dahlias; all contrasting with the "greens" of the leaves, and the grasses.

WEEDS!!!! what can I say: rampant, fast growing, immune to herbicides, immune to extended drought, and the only way to even begin to control them ( some job on over 4 acres of land ) is with a sharp machete in the hands of an expert! Even the grass grows so fast that is 3 feet high in 6 weeks! "lawn" mowers are no good, needs a trimmer or machete.

2A beautiful ( unidentified ) flower growing behind the house: I think it is a Bromeliad, that germinated on the ground, instead of (the usual place for them ) on a tree.

Throughout the year, we average about 1 head each of Banana and Plantain ( the shade trees for the coffee ) each week, and for about 3 months ( October to early February ) we have more fruits than we can possibly eat, so we just give them away: Oranges ( sweet and sour ) Lemons, Grapefruit, Limes, Tangerines, Artiniques, Guava. We use the bamboo to make fences and other garden "things", as it grows rampant, and the big ones are about 6 inches in diameter: the wood only lasts a few years before it rots away, but is a most useful source of sticks and poles, up to 30 feet in length.

You have to hear a woodpecker "attacking" a dry bamboo pole, to believe how loud it can be!!
Here in the mountains, being so remote, our only option is to use a satellite dish to get a TV signal, and with the transmitting satellite being quite low down in the sky, the reception is very poor, to nonexistent, whenever it rains, even heavy clouds will cause the signal to break-up: the local stations (via terrestrial transmitters ) are almost unwatchable, due to the very poor signal reception: and even if the picture was OK, the content is abysmal to anyone who cannot watch an unending "diet" of sports and ( lack of talent ) talent shows!!

Living so far from any shops, if I do not have something, I have to do without: if something breaks down, I have to fix it myself, or make something to substitute for it.

My favourite coffee brewing method, is a french press; produces (from my own-grown coffee, at least ) a far superior flavour over the drip-brewer: but; the glass part of the press is very delicate, and of the 4, I had, one is beyond repair, and the other 3 are held together with epoxy resin, and duct tape. Have tried to get replacements locally, with no success ( phoned the biggest supplier of catering equipment, in Jamaica, and they did not even know what I was trying to describe!! ).

So; I had to try and make my own: first attempt was to use an empty wine bottle, which was an exact fit for the plunger from the broken one: cut the bottle, and apart from not being able to make a proper spout to pour the coffee ( it spills all over the table ) it works, very well. Made a couple more, but I must have been extremely lucky with the first one, picking the ONLY empty wine bottle that did not shatter immediately the hot water hit the glass.

Back to the "drawing board": searched around, and eventually decided on a piece of 2 inch diameter water pipe: which fits perfectly in to an aluminium can, ( it was a small tin of chicken sausages ) just needed a ring of epoxy resin to seal and make the base fully water-proof, and a smear of silicon sealant, to stop any water getting between the pipe and the can.

Warm the top of the plastic pipe, gently, over the gas cooker, and, with a screwdriver, gently push out a pouring spout.

The plunger is made from the plastic lid to an empty spice bottle; a few holes drilled in to it, a layer of mosquito netting, between two layers of fine wire mesh, and the whole thing held together between two pieces of aluminium ( the lids to the aluminium cans, the bases are made from; cut to size, hammered flat, and some holes drilled in them ) An old bicycle wheel spoke made a good push-rod, but it turned out to be slightly too short; so: cut a thread on the end of a 4mm length of stiff wire: and fitted it through the centre of the plunger, with a couple on nylon nuts, to hold it all tightly together. The top cover is the lid from an insecticide spray can, with a cut-out for the spout.

The handle is made from a length of stiff wire, carefully bent around the plastic pipe, passed through a short length of bamboo (the hand grip ) and tightened around the base.

Works extremely well! Took only a couple of hours to make; cost almost nothing, and has no glass that can break! But best of all, by carefully measuring the length of the pipe, I now get a full mug of coffee, instead of "short measure".

Possibly not the "designer look" to it, but who really cares?? It works, will last years, and so easy to make more, if needed!!

The next part of the "project" will be to see if I can find the perfect piece of bamboo, so that I can enclose the whole of the press inside the bamboo: THEN, I might be able to "claim" the "designer" label!! Until recently, when we finally managed to get drinking water piped into the house, from a stream up in the mountains above us, all our drinking water was collected from a spring across the gully, but it was often ( usually after some heavy rain ) a bit "muddy": so, I made a water filter from an old, burned out, coffee drip brewer: stripped off all the bits that got in the way, and just poured the water straight into the filter paper: it was slow, but we got clean drinking water! All our other water was collected rain water, NOT drinkable, as it came off the roof of the house, and washed all the bird droppings, etc, off the roof and into the underground water tank, which was then pumped up to the storage tanks, above the house. With the new water supply, used to fill all the storage tanks, we now have clean water all around the house, and the old rain water collection tank, still there for emergency use.

Angels Trumpet ( Datura sp. ) growing in front of the house. 

To be continued...

Robin Plough, a friend of

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See also:
A New Year on the Plantation
A Visit to Paradise
A year in the life..What makes JBM, the 'legend' of coffee?
Assessing your coffee (part 1)
Assessing your coffee (part 2)
Assessing your coffee (part 3)
Economics of JBM. Part 1
Economics of JBM. Part 2
Everything you wanted to know about the Coffee Board
Growing a coffee plant at home
Growing Coffee. Part 1
Growing Coffee. Part 2
Growing Coffee. Part 3
Growing Coffee. Part 4
Growing Coffee. Part 5
Growing: Part 1
Growing: Part 2
Jamaican food (part 1)
Jamaican food (part 2)
Jamaican food (part 3)
Jamaican newsletter
Living in Paradise: Part II
Living in Paradise: Part III
Processing our coffee (part 1)
Processing our coffee (part 2)
Random thoughts on the end of the world
Random thoughts on the end of the world (II)
Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 1
Special Report: Coffee Leaf Rust Fungus Part 2
SPECIAL: Coffee borer beetle in Hawaii
Trivia and other ramblings: part 1
Trivia and other ramblings: part 2
Tropical Storm Nichole
see also

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