JIS News

The Blue Mountain Coffee Cooperative in Cedar Valley, St.Thomas has constructed a new 464.5 sq. metres (5,000 sq ft) storage facility, which has the capacity to hold some 60,000 boxes of coffee beans. The building, completed at a cost of some $3.5 million, was officially opened on Monday (March 15) at the Cooperative’s annual general meeting held at the Moy Hall Coffee Factory. Over 90 coffee farmers and residents from coffee producing districts attended the meeting.
Included in the new structure are five dehumidifiers to ensure that the moisture content in the coffee beans remains at a constant level. Construction work started in early November last year and was completed in January 2004.
Manager of the Blue Mountain Coffee Cooperative, O’Neil Blake said that the construction of the facility was necessary because of the “increasing high levels of production.” He noted that the facility was also part of an expansion and retooling process to equip the factory.
“We want to centralize storage and to ensure that we have the appropriate kind of infrastructure to store and protect the produce,” he said, adding that during this year the drying space at the factory would be expanded to some 743.2 sq. metres (8,000 sq ft.) Mr. Blake said there were also plans to implement a bio-digester project, which would use the waste products at the Cooperative to generate electricity for operations at the factory.
He disclosed that the Cooperative had introduced a second coffee brand name called “Penlyne Castle,” to market its coffee in Europe, United States and Japan. The Cooperative Manager said that farmers at Penlyne Castle, a district in St. Thomas noted for producing a high quality of coffee beans, produced some 12, 000 boxes each year.
According to Mr. Blake, the Cooperative had made “massive market expansion” in the Japanese market and now had “contractual arrangements” to supply coffee to two large companies in Japan, Toyota and Ataka.
“Presently marketing is not a problem and it is very demanding to fulfill these commitments,” he said.To meet shipping deadlines, Mr. Blake said that the Cooperative recently introduced a night shift at the factory starting from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and employs over 90 persons on each shift.
He noted that the production of coffee had moved from 8,000 boxes in 1998 to 44,000 boxes at present. A total of 3,000 farmers supply cherry coffee to the factory moving from 200 in 1998, Mr. Blake added.Following the meeting, plaques were presented to six former employees for their long service and contribution to the Cooperative over the years. Persons receiving awards were Charles Graham, Gloria Burgher, Ernest Henry, Soltan Nicholas, Philbert Lawson and Luton Morgan.

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