In 1616 the Dutch successfully managed to smuggle a coffee plant out of Mocha (Yemen) and while cultivation was only on a small scale, this changed when they took control of Ceylon from the Portuguese in 1658. In 1796 the British defeated the Dutch and so much land was cleared for coffee that by 1860 it became the world’s largest producer. In 1869 a lethal fungus, coffee rust, effectively wiped out the industry.

In 2001, James Whight had a vision to reintroduce coffee to Sri Lanka and spent more than 12 months visiting the hill country in areas where the great coffee plantations had once existed. He gathered samples from coffee trees that now only grew in people’s backyards and sent them for testing in Australia and around the world.

The results were promising with one sample in particular scoring more than the top coffee in the world at the time. This sample came from the Maturata Valley, from the descendants of the 140 year old, Sri Amma or mother plant - originally from Ethiopia. The first Ruby Harvest coffee planting took place there in 2002 and it was only after the planting they found archival references written in the 1800‘s describing the Maturata area as being the best location for growing the finest quality coffee.

Since then, working with the local people of the area, more than 100 hectares has been put back under coffee cultivation and the the first commercial, quality coffee plantation re-established in more than a century.