Most people tend to think of coffee as a simple beverage, available everywhere, and with a generic taste. But in reality, there are many exclusive and exotic types of coffee, as many as there are fine wines. One such type of coffee is Jamaican Blue Mountain.
But what is Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, and what makes it so special? Read on to find out.
What is Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee?
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee comes, as the name suggests, from the Blue Mountain region in Jamaica, some of the highest areas in the Caribbean. This region is cool and temperate, with high annual rainfall. The rich soil is well-drained. All these environmental factors make it perfect for growing coffee.
Of course, there are many regions in the world that are suitable for the cultivation of the coffee plant, but for some reason, Jamaica Blue Mountain is extra-special.
What is so special about Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee?
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (JBM) comes from some of the highest coffee plantations in the world, at elevations of up 5,000 feet.
Kona Coffee, for example, another well-regarded brand, is grown at just over 600 feet.
The high altitude produces a bean that is denser and harder than other coffee beans, and this affects the flavor.
It is full-bodied with low acidity and has a sweet, nutty, chocolate taste. With a rich aroma and a smooth flavor, it is very sought after and is some of the world’s most expensive coffees.
JBM is actually packed in wooden barrels for shipment, the only coffee in the world to be handled in such away. This natural packaging ensures the flavor is enhanced during transportation.
What is Jamaican High Mountain coffee?
Although coffee is cultivated in several locations on the island of Jamaica, only beans grown on the Eastern side of the island at elevations above 3,000 feet can have the classification of “Jamaica Blue Mountain”, and out of the 28,000 acres that are used for coffee growing, JBM comes from just 3,000 acres.
Other plantations that grow coffee at between 1,500 and 3,000 feet have the label Jamaican High Mountain.
High Mountain is grown in greater quantities and does not have the same complex flavor profile as JBM, but it is still a good-tasting coffee at a more affordable price.
Why is Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee so expensive?
There are several reasons that make JBM one of the most expensive coffee brands in the world.
Firstly, it is not grown in huge quantities, in fact, the amount available each year is less than 1% of world coffee cultivation. The high demand for such a rare product allows it to ask a correspondingly high price.
Secondly, the altitude and steep gradient of the mountains make harvesting slow, difficult, and expensive, and the cost of production is reflected in the price.
Thirdly, 80% of JBM production is sold in Japan, leaving only 20% for the rest of the world. The Japanese are always the highest bidders for the beans on the open market, and Japanese people love the coffee so much they have even named a day in its honor – in Japan, January 9th is Blue Mountain day.
Lastly, even green bean processing is slow and labor-intensive. All beans are sorted manually to remove any blemishes or insect damage. – so each bean is in fact inspected by hand.
After the sorter has finished, every batch is again checked by the plant manager, and the beans are rested for 8 weeks in controlled storage.
All these factors combine to ensure that every single bag of JBM that is sold around the world is always of the highest possible quality, and this commands a premium price.
How can you tell if Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is real?
As with any exclusive brand, there are always unscrupulous profiteers who will try to pass off inferior products as Blue Mountain.
In many places around the world, even in cafes and restaurants, what is advertised as JBM is in fact cheaper coffee beans from other regions.
Since 1948 the Jamaican government has introduced the Coffee Industry Regulation Act, which controls their coffee production and export, and another industry board, the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Authority decides which plantations can use the Blue Mountain label.
They have a Seal of Certification, a blue label, on every bag of genuine JBM.
Of course, these days anything can be copied and reproduced, but there are two ways to be absolutely sure: firstly the price – if it is cheap, or on sale, or discounted, and sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t genuine. JBM will always be at a premium price.
Secondly, the flavor. Nothing else tastes like it, and a copy may have the name but will never be able to copy the flavor of the real thing.
Final thoughts on Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
If you love coffee and want to experience something truly unique, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a perfect choice.
It is one of the most expensive coffees in the world, but it’s also one of the best.
The unique flavor and complex taste profile set it apart from all other coffees, and once you’ve tried it you’ll understand why so many people are willing to pay a premium for this rare delicacy.
So if you’re looking for an unforgettable coffee experience, be sure to add Jamaican Blue Mountain to your list.