Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee- All You Need to Know

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Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most expensive coffee brands in the world. It tastes incredible and is seriously high quality. No wonder coffee connoisseurs are willing to fork out big bucks for it. In this article, we’ll explore this coffee brand and answer some burning questions to properly introduce you to this heavenly elixir.

[1] Where Does Blue Mountain Coffee Come From?

Blue Mountain Coffee is from the Jamaican Blue Mountains. Back in 1723, the French King Louis XV sent some coffee plants as a gift to the island of Martinique, located south-west of Jamaica. These plants grew well, leading the governor of Martinique to send one as a gift to Sir Nicholas Lawes, the governor of Jamaica. This plant was carefully nurtured and multiplied until an entire plantation was formed. Nine years later, the first Blue Mountain coffee was exported, representing the birth of the Jamaican coffee industry.

[2] What conditions is it grown in?

The Blue Mountains have rich and fertile volcanic soil. Source

The Jamaican Blue Mountains have extremely fertile volcanic soil rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. These mountains rise to an altitude of 2350 meters and are prone to regular rainfall. Jamaica is almost permanently covered in misty clouds, so these coffee plants are permanently protected from the harsh sun. Blue Mountain coffee is grown at an altitude of at least 1800 meters, which limits the area available for its cultivation.

[3] Why is it so expensive?

Blue Mountain Coffee is only grown in a small area of 6000 hectares. Source

The short answer is: supply and demand. Blue Mountain coffee has a unique taste that is highly sought-after. The supply is extremely limited, though, since it is only grown in a very specific region under specific conditions. Areas used for the cultivation of Blue Mountain coffee include the parishes of Portland, St Andrews, St Mary and St Thomas, the total of which comprises about 6000 hectares. This is about the size of one coffee plantation in countries delivering high volumes of coffee. Here, however, the coffee is cultivated on smallholdings, ranging from 4 to 70 hectares in size.

Yearly, a total of 400 to 1000 metric tons of Blue Mountain coffee is produced. This is tiny in comparison to the rest of the world’s production. For example, Colombia produces a whopping 1000 000 metric tons per year. Think about it – the entire yearly production of Blue Mountain coffee equated to about three hours’ worth of production in Colombia.

Added to this, Blue Mountain coffee is packed in wooden barrels instead of bags like the rest of the world does. Why? People are willing to pay the premium. Here, basic economics come into play: the higher the demand and the lower the supply, the higher the price.

[4] What does it taste like?

Blue Mountain is known as the champagne of coffees. The production and taste is carefully controlled to keep everything up to the highest standard. This gives Blue Mountain coffee its distinctive taste: exceptionally sweet with a rich aroma and flavor. It has a full body and mild acidity and almost completely lacks bitterness. In a word: divine!

[5] Is Blue Mountain coffee Arabica?

Yes, Blue Mountain coffee is Arabica, since most of the beans cultivated in this area is Arabica Typica.

[6] What are the other most expensive coffees in the world?

Black Ivory coffee is extracted from elephant poo! Source

Kopi Luwak, a specialized Vietnamese coffee, used to be the most expensive coffee in the world, but now ranks fourth. This coffee, made from coffee beans eaten by wild civets (Vietnamese weasels), sells for $500 per kilogram.

Black Ivory, selling at more than $500 per pound, is currently the most expensive coffee in the world. Here, Arabica beans are fed to elephants in Thailand. Similar to Kopi Luwak, these excreted beans are collected, roasted and pressed into coffee.

Finca El Injerto trades at $500 per pound, ranking second on the list. This coffee is special because of the exceptionally small beans used to make it and the specific process with which they’re taken from green beans to perfect coffee.

Hacienda La Esmerelda, selling at $350 per pound, is cultivated in Panama on Mount Baru. These plants are shaded by guava trees, lending an exceptional flavor to the beans.

Saint Helena coffee ranks fifth at $79 per pound. Cultivated on the island of St Helena, transport costs for this coffee is quite steep, since the island can only be reached by boat. Recently, an airport was built there, but it isn’t fully functional yet. Maybe, once the airport functions properly, the cost will decrease a bit. Coffee lovers are willing to pay the price, though, since this brand is delicious with a fragrant caramel flavor and hints of citrus.

[7] How is the brand protected?

The Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica (JCIB), formed in 1950, sets strict standards for coffee cultivation in Jamaica. Here, every bean is rigorously inspected before being cleared for export. Added to this, the Blue Mountain coffee brand is trademarked and protected by strict trade laws instituted by the Coffee Industry Regulation Act, serving as an added layer of protection. In order to qualify to be called Blue Mountain coffee, specific cultivars of coffee beans must be grown in the Jamaican Blue Mountains at an elevation of 1800 meters or more. This means that a very small area is available for cultivation of this coffee. Each farmer cultivating Blue Mountain coffee must register as such and adhere to strict quality control guidelines.

[8] How to spot fake Blue Mountain coffee

Blue Mountain has implemented a series of checks in order to protect the integrity of their brand. If you don’t see these when buying yours, you’re not buying real Blue Mountain coffee.

Blue Mountain Seal

All genuine Blue Mountain coffee must display this seal on the packaging.

Blue Mountain has a specific trademark seal that must be present on all packaging in order to certify that it’s the real deal. This seal was authorized and developed by the Coffee Industry Board. When you’re purchasing your pack, check for the seal – be sure that it’s the real deal and not a variation of it.

Packaging

Blue Mountain coffee can only legally be packaged in Jamaica. No other country has a license to purchase and package this coffee. So, if your pack says that it was packaged anywhere but in Jamaica, it’s probably a very weak blend of Blue Mountain, containing all kinds of nasties and very little of the good stuff.

Blends

Blue Mountain doesn’t do blends – there really is no authorized blend of this coffee. If your pack says you’re buying a blend, you’re definitely not purchasing the real deal.

Authentication

Authorized Blue Mountain sellers will have paperwork proving that they’re the real deal. There’s nothing wrong with asking the seller to show you their paperwork before you buy their wares. After all, you’re planning to fork out some serious cash for what they’re selling and you definitely don’t want to get ripped off.

[9] In Closing

Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most expensive coffees in the world, and for good reason. This coffee tastes divine and is of the highest quality. Since it’s exclusively grown in a tiny portion of the Jamaican Blue Mountains, you can well believe that the demand far outweighs the supply, accounting for the high cost of getting some of this heavenly elixir.

If you haven’t tasted the awesomeness that is Blue Mountain coffee, we suggest heading down to a reputable coffee house and ordering a cup. We do issue a warning with this invitation: you’ll probably get hooked and turn into a serious coffee connoisseur. 


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