What is so special about Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee besides being one of the most critically acclaimed and expensive types of coffee in the world?
This coffee has light color and rich flavor. 84 coffee It is known for its full body and mild flavor without any bitterness. Only coffee grown in four districts or parishes between 3,000 and 5,000 feet in altitude qualifies to carry the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee certification. This coffee is separated by five grades based on bean size, lack of defects, and quality of flavor profile. In addition, only a small quantity of high quality Blue Mountain Coffee is produced each year.
Demand is high, supply is low. As a result, it commands a premium price. The top grade is designed as specialty coffee. It is interesting to note that Jamaican Blue Mountain green coffee is the only coffee in the world that is shipped in oak barrels similar to fine wines. The oak barrels help preserve and maintain the unique characteristics of the green coffee, a secret wine producers have known for a very long time. Blue Mountain Coffee also contains less caffeine than any other commercially grown coffee species.
Before coffee can be labeled “Blue Mountain Coffee,” it has to meet a strict set of certification requirements. This ensures that buyers get their money’s worth when buying the quality gourmet coffee they expect. Most Jamaican coffee grows on the once forested lower slopes of the Blue Mountains. Coffee harvested at 3,000 to 5,000 feet in altitude is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. Coffee harvested at 1,500 to 3,000 feet is certified as Jamaica High Mountain Coffee. Coffee harvested at 1,500 feet and below is certified as Jamaica Supreme or Jamaica Low Mountain Coffee.
The two largest coffee producers in Jamaica are Wallenford Estate and the Moy Hall Cooperative. At one time, Wallenford Estate was one of the most celebrated and best of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Nowadays, the term Wallenford Estate refers to any Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from Wallensford mill. The Moy Hall Cooperative has about 1,500 small coffee farmers supplying cherries to the Moy Hall Coffee Factory in Cedar Valley. The staff members, many of them coffee farmers, jealously follow the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board standards in order to maintain the prized certification labels for their coffee. This, in turn, translates into higher prices for their crops. The coffee reaping, selection, floating, re-floating, measurement, drying, grading, picking and sorting before export is a very involved but necessary process that guarantees coffee quality from the bean to the cup. 90% of all Jamaican coffee production is exported to Japan, the US and Europe.
Fortunately, the tradition of “backwoods growers and roasters” remains very much alive in Jamaica. Some local farmers continue to hand pick their own ripe berries, dry them, cure them and roast them in a traditional and time consuming way.
When in Jamaica, you may notice coffee farmers selling their own coffee along roadsides or from their own coffee farms. If you have the opportunity to stop and visit with one of Jamaica’s “backwoods growers” who still roast the old-fashioned way and sell their harvest directly to locals and visitors, be sure to stop and enjoy such unique experience. Usually, what happens is you just stumble upon such opportunity.
Backwoods growers do not advertise or even have signs “out front.” So, how do you know they are there?
Ah! By the rich, sweet-roasted aroma of fresh coffee in the air! Literally, the “nose” will guide you to the right place to partake of old fashioned Jamaican hospitality. Your tongue and palate will thank you for what is a truly unforgettable coffee tasting time. You will remember the interaction with new people who have a different lifestyle and enjoy drinking coffee.
Obviously, many of us are away from the island and not able to plan a coffee back-road adventure. So, ready to give yourself a classy coffee treat right in the comfort of your own home? Prepare a cup of freshly ground, roast to order Jamaican Genuine Blue Mountain ‘Certified’ or Jamaican Blue Mountain Blend!