6 Stops on Jamaica's Blue Mountain Coffee Trail

Where to drink it all in 

Casting their shadow over the super-heated hustle and bustle of Kingston (Jamaica’s capital), the Blue Mountains rise to the north of the city, lofty green peaks that take their name from the blue haze that often lingers around their summits. Reached by little one-lane roads that wind through the valleys and cling to the sides of sharp slopes, these mountains are renowned the world over for one thing: really, really great coffee. 

Blue Mountain joe has a rich history that reaches all the way back to 1728, when the British—seeing the potential for this new crop to grow well in their colony—brought six coffee plants from the island of Java to Jamaica. Raised in an ecosystem perfectly suited for growing beans slow, in the shade, this is a product that can be explored as much as it can be consumed. On the slopes of the Blue Mountains, you can tour large-scale coffee plantations and see how the beans are grown and processed, spend time chatting (by appointment) with local farmers and hike wild trails to beautiful peaks—where the coffee grows in its most natural form all along the paths. 

Here are a few of the very best places to experience Blue Mountain coffee, all within a few minutes’ drive of one another. 

Craighton Estate

This 18th-century colonial great house is the perfect place to begin your coffee odyssey. Now owned by the Ueshima Coffee Co., the estate employs guides who will sit you down on the shady veranda and offer you a cuppa joe while they explain what makes this area such fertile coffee country. Then they’ll lead you up plant-lined slopes to a small gazebo that offers 360-degree views of the coffee fields all around. 

Strawberry Hill Resort

This ridge-top resort is owned by Chris Blackwell, founder of legendary Island Records. Sit on the wraparound veranda and try some classic island dishes like curried goat or oxtail stew. Then visit the on-site Gold Room, where you can view gold and platinum records belonging to Island Records greats like U2, Melissa Etheridge and, of course,

Bob Marley. 

Island Coffees

Just down the lane from Strawberry Hill, this tiny shop is owned by passionate coffee farmer Jonathan Surtees. Enjoy a cup of his signature Strawberry Hill brand while he chats to you about the natural forces that combine to make Blue Mountain coffee truly special. Surtees also offers a small selection of packaged dark roast coffee for purchase.  

Prince Valley Guest House

This modest lodge offers a full-immersion experience. Here, you can sleep next to Prince Valley’s small coffee farm, wake up and drink its warm, dark yields over breakfast, then spend a full day touring nearby coffee factories. 

EITS Café (Europe in the Summer)

A quirky roadside spot signposted by a vintage car, this place (which also includes Mount Edge Guest House and Food Basket Farm) got its start when its friendly owner began inviting passersby in for dinner. The guesthouse features a spa, yoga, and fresh-brewed java sourced from nearby fields. 

Twyman’s Old Tavern Coffee Estate

Drive to what feels like the end of the main B1 road, which runs straight over the spine of the mountains. Then drive a little further and keep your eyes peeled for the retired Land Rover that marks this family-run operation. A stop here feels like a visit to an old friend—the founders often invite travellers into their home to show off their on-site grinder and share a cup in their living room. (876-399-1222)

Getting There: WestJet flies to Kingston four times a week from Toronto.