“ There is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil……”The Coffee Song of 1976″ by Osibisa (YouTube) springs to mind as I am in the starting blocks of my latest story. Yes, after 2 wonderful, freshly brewed, cups of coffee. Beans from…..no, now I need to back up….
We, my darling Dave and myself moved from Sint Maarten to Saint Lucia. We had our container, oh that is certainly another story, and our papers etc….but the coffee was not that easy. Strange when you think that on Saint Lucia, there used to be a few coffee plantations that produced some of the best coffee in the world. Having lived on SXM (St. Martin) for 12 years we were used to getting what we wanted, when we wanted as long as you flash the cash. It is a little different here on Belle Helene, Saint Lucia. It is more like: do not make a shopping list but see what is available and improvise. For me that is a fantastic way to shop since the produce here is fresh. I am a chef and it keeps the grey mass sharp trying to come up with ever-changing, exciting and tasty dinners. I realized that I would have to do some research with regards to a few staples and one of them was COFFEE.
Coffee….fresh beans put in the De Longhi machine (which survived “IRMABITCH” by the way), make a wonderful, frothy cup. In the supermarkets here there was not a lot of choice and/or no choice because there simply were NO coffee beans. Yes, the local coffee from the ………..plantation was sold but only ground and at a ridiculous tourist price.
Ok, the large market in Castries and the Farmers Market in Rodney Bay were the next place of attack in the search for coffee beans. Now I was already that far that I realized I might have to roast them myself….no problem amigo….’There is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil’.
Maybe play this song whilst continuing the Coffee Story my friends.
Mighty YouTube had shown me how to roast raw coffee beans so I was ready. At the Saturday Farmers Market I managed to get a little bag of maybe 100 grams of raw, unroasted coffee beans for 10EC. $1,= is 2.60 EC. I was elated and sped homewards to turn on the oven and the laptop, for the YouTube refresher, and put on the…..yep, the Coffee Song to get in the mood for some serious roasting. Well, seriously….I only had a little baggie of beans but it was a start.
Wow, I was THE COFFEE ROASTER that day. I put the freshly roasted beans in the De Longhi and ground them into a nice cup of coffee. Not too bad but it was a trial and the old beans from SXM were mixed in with the Saint Lucia beans to ensure a smooth transition from one bean to the next. Did I mention I am Dutch and we take coffee extremely seriously? I had been smart and got the WhatsApp # from the lady, Bidi, at the Farmers Market to order a larger bag for that Wednesday.
Home I came again with a larger bag of fresh, raw, Saint Lucia coffee beans and I thought I was the absolute “Super Duper Local Know It All Coffee” fiend…..for about 45 minutes. Because when I finished roasting the beans I realized that I had to peel each and every single coffee bean! The Coffee Song did not sound so good anymore. After about 50 or so beans I gave up…I am too young for this shit. Peeling single roasted coffee beans is something you do as therapy which I do not need cuz I do yoga, meditate and swim, ok?! In the trash the roasted beans went. I know, terrible but I was so disillusioned with my coffee bean saga and trying to get it right I had a momentary lapse of reason. Yes, Pink Floyd. No, I did not put on the music but went for a swim instead.
When my head was clear I decided there MUST be a working coffee plantation that I could buy roasted, peeled beans from. Bidi, the Farmers Market lady had happily informed me that coffee beans were only harvested as of November and for a few months. December was the big coffee month. I had visions of whole families sitting together peeling freshly roasted coffee beans whilst singing… yepper…The Coffee Song.
As it turns out, one of our neighbors just bought a 10-acre coffee plantation near Soufriere, the old capital of St. Lucia, right by the Pitons. The coffee plantation is called Le Verrier which was the name of the family that owned the plantation in years past and had at the time, the largest coffee crop on island. We chatted and made an appointment to visit. Great timing since our bestie from City Island, Leigh, was over for one of her visits. The coffee plantation is a large work in progress but it was extremely interesting, from getting there via almost no roads to trudging around the plantation in buildup phase. An architect, engineer and a chef together at the coffee plantation where the owner and son, both engineers and wife, can do anything, had a super time talking, learning, collecting wood from rubber trees and cinnamon bushes, plants, flowers and Shadow Benny and drinking coffee – haha.
Well, turns out that their coffee plants are only 1 year old. Coffee plants need to be 5 years old in order to produce beans so that is a little wait….
So, even though we had an absolute amazing day and a hell-of-a-trip getting back through wild country, I was no further with my Coffee Bean Quest.
Epiphany!!! Yes, Viking Trading, who sells herbs and what not in all Saint Lucia Supermarkets. Viking Trading, who are local. Viking Trading, who after my telephone call came to our house with 5 KG! of FRESHLY ROASTED AND PEELED coffee beans at a very reasonable price. The owners of Viking Traders brought the bags themselves and we are extremely thankful.
We have fresh coffee beans for our coffee machine which makes wonderful coffee each morning. I certainly learned a lot, experienced some and know that these type of quests are fun! LIVING IN THE CARIBBEAN….another song……..for another time……….