Rohan Marley - Time to Rise & Grind
Rohan Marley stirs it up as he takes his own brand of Marley Coffee beyond the buzz in a quest for a cup with a cause.
Words by Juliet Austin. Photos courtesy of www.marleycoffee.co.uk
Son of Jamaica's late, great Bob Marley, former professional American footballer and entrepreneur Rohan Marley’s latest role is less about being seen, than about the bean scene at his 52-acre coffee farm, high up in Jamaica’s legendary Blue Mountains. Having bought land in 1999, Marley co-founded Marley Coffee in 2007 with friend, Shane Whittle, launching a unique brand of artisan roasted organic coffee inspired by his reggae heritage, Rastafarian beliefs and the express hope of creating a cup with a cause. With positive vibrations taking his black nectar from strength to strength, the son of the Reggae King looks set to become the kingpin of Jamaica’s thriving coffee culture.
True to the values passed down from his father, along with his quest for the holy grail of the ‘perfect cup,’ came the need to create “the taste of a brighter tomorrow” that would better the lives of coffee growing communities on his native soil and across the globe. Blending home-grown beans and those sourced from Central America and Ethiopia, Marley Coffee’s three premium specialty coffees promise not only rich, smooth flavours and intoxicating aromas, but a cup of Joe guaranteed to meet the growing demands of educated consumers for stricter environmental, social and ethical standards. As Marley asserts, “It doesn’t matter who you are, it matters how you are.”
Feeling a deep spiritual connection both to the land of milk and honey that his father once farmed and to the plateaus of Ethiopia, birthplace of his Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I (and where goatherd, Kaldi, is alleged to have first discovered Arabica coffee after a legendary goatly gambol), Marley’s commitment to organic, sustainable and ethical practices is underpinned by a philosophical adherence to the Rastafarian creed of Ital, whereby all things are Pure, True and Vital.
After ten years travelling the world, researching the best principles, technologies and methods of organic farming, and letting his ideas percolate to perfection, coffee plants on the Marley estate are shade-grown, carefully cultivated in ‘takin’- it-slow’ style. Picked, pulped and hand-sorted by local farmers paid a living wage twice the going rate, the beans grow under a rainforest canopy at an elevation of 3,000 feet. Respectful of biodiversity, a veto on synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and additives ensures healthy soil, nullifying the risk of contaminating the Spanish River running through the property and supporting the habitat of migratory birds. There are even plans to host ecotourism groups to pay forward the practices of sustainable living. “Our goal is to turn Jamaica into an organic movement,” Marley states, “to empower people, so my farmers are able to have shares in the company.”
Business to Marley is about community; giving back to the people. Started by Marley Coffee, the Kicks for a Cause Foundation is funded through sales’ donations, helping to enrich and inspire the lives of underprivileged children in coffee-producing communities like Jamaica. He is also a tireless supporter of 1Love.org, the not-for-profit organisation established by his family with a mission to promote happiness and prosperity by focusing on children, by providing nutritional food and education; the planet, by living green and engaging in sustainability; and peace, by always working for the greater good.
It was eighteenth century philosopher, Sir James MacKintosh, who maintained that the quantity of coffee drunk was directionally proportional to the powers of a man’s mind. So, how does Rohan Marley take his? Known to drink endless cups, he has used his genius to cultivate a breed of consumer ready to wake up and smell a new era of coffee with a conscience. Oh, and for the record, he takes his straight black.
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