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WHAAAAaaaat? Writer’s accolade for St Helena coffee

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Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 23.07.14Coffee writer Maja Wallengren’s cup was fairly flowing over when she reviewed the product of St Helena’s estates on her SpillingTheBeans website. Now she has declared it her Coffee of the Year.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 23.04.56She really was keen.

“SpillingTheBeans can hardly contain the excitement to be able to share SUCH a rare coffee with you,” she wrote.

“It is stunning to find an island coffee with so many flavour attributes.”

It was, she said, “the kind of coffee that makes you stop up after the first zip to take a look at the cup and say out loud “WHAAAAaaaat?” as you ponder in wonderful amazement over where this coffee comes from.”

Maja, a Danish writer who is “crazy beyond passionate” about her subject, was sent a sample by South Sea Island Coffees, the London importers for the island estates in Sandy Bay.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 23.03.02

Click the pic to read Maja’s review in full

Maja told the story of the original Yemini beans being imported into the island in the 1730s, and remaining unusually pure because of the island’s extreme isolation.

The South Sea Islands Coffee website tells how a joint venture with Solomon & Co led to production being resuscitated following the demise of the Napoleon Estate of David Henry, who had left the island.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 23.03.50“Production is now focused on the historic coffee farm of Bamboo Hedge, it says. “The land around the adjoining Wrangham’s Estate is also being cleared for renewed coffee cultivation and, it is hoped, that this will come on stream in the near future.”

Quality controls are more rigorous for St Helena’s delicate bean than would be possible on larger estates, says the website, but there are difficulties – apart from the difficulty of export.

“One of the major challenges for coffee production in St Helena is the deep scarcity of local farm labour,” it says.

20 years serving world-beating coffee

For two decades, people on St Helena have been able to enjoy a cup of their own island’s coffee, thanks to the efforts of Bill and Jill Bolton.

They founded the Rosemary Gate Coffee Estate in 1994 and it is still going strong, reports the St Helena Wirebird tourism website.

“Years of growing and perfecting the recipe has resulted in St Helena’s coffee being one of the finest in the world market,” says the Wirebird.

“It’s a flavour that represents more than three centuries of history.”

The site explains the patience that goes into the Rosemary Gate product, which is sold by the cup or the bag at the Coffee Shop on Jamestown sea front.

“No doubt new commercial opportunities will arise with the introduction of St Helena airport in 2016,” it says, “when inevitably there will be a rise in tourism and the potential for the coffee export market to really spike.

“Until then St Helena’s coffee remains a rare luxury for those outside of the island.”

Coffee of the YEAR: St Helena – SpillingTheBeans website
Rosemary Gate Coffee Estate – St Helena Wirebird
South Sea Island Coffee
St Helena Coffee Company

SEE ALSO: Coffee: how a bag of beans made St Helena a world-beater

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