So many big and small things in life happen unexpectedly and occasionally. I had never heard about Blue Mountain coffee until I went to Kingston, Jamaica. In the hotel where I stayed there was a magazine which I opened rather mechanically before going to bed. Right away, there was an article with a catchy title – Jamaican Blue Mountain – James Bond’s favorite coffee. That was a start of my eternal love of Blue Mountain – the best coffee in the world.
Jamaican Blue Mountain was author Ian Fleming’s favorite coffee and is credited in his book “Live and Let Die”, with James Bond declaring it “the most delicious coffee in the world”. Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is famed for its absence of bitterness, and smooth, caramel mouthfeel. Best enjoyed pure, without milk or sugar.
Blue Mountain – best coffee in the world
Why Blue Mountain coffee is so expensive
The cost of one pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee might range from $45 to $600. Let’s see why it’s so expensive and what you are paying big bucks for :
- Exquisite taste. The unique blue mist, that gave the mountain range its name, slows the coffee beans ripening process down by 30% improving both aroma and taste, and achieving the perfect conditions to create a truly unique and delicate flavor.
- Blue Mountain is alkali and not acidic.
- Limited growing area. The Blue Mountains are generally located between Kingston to the south and Port Antonio to the north. Rising to 2,256m, they are some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean. The climate of the region is cool and misty with high rainfall. The soil is rich, with excellent drainage. This combination of climate and soil is considered ideal for coffee.
- Only one harvest a year. Unlike many other coffee producing regions, Jamaican Blue Mountain produces just one harvest per annum. Blue Mountain coffee is so rare that its annual production is equivalent to the amount produced in three hours by Columbia’s annual crop yield. Coffee harvesting in Jamaica runs from August to June, but in some locations it usually takes place between September and January.
- Hard to grow. The landscape also makes the process of planting and harvesting the coffee slow.
- Every coffee bean grown in the Jamaican Blue Mountains is picked by hand to ensure the quality of the beans. Moreover, the use of machines at that altitude creates a lot of logistical issues.
- Hard to produce. All Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is wet-processed and supervised at every stage of pulping, drying, hulling, sorting and grading according to the official regulations.
- High demand. The high demand for Blue Mountain coffee in both the American and Japanese markets keeps the cost of Jamaican Blue Mountain high.
Blue Mountain coffee – best gift for your best one
Agent 007’s favorite coffee is a very special gift for your very special people. Treat the world’s best one with the world’s best coffee. A gift of exquisite-tasting Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee will make your father or boyfriend feel like James Bond.
There are some luxury gift boxes of exquisite hand batch-roasted Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Each gift box contains a numbered, limited edition, signed roasting certificate, a personalized message, a presentation booklet and 250g of coffee. You have a choice of whole bean, coarse, medium and fine grounds to suit any taste.
Difference between Blue Mountain coffee and other coffees
Generally, the beans are gathered, the pulp of the fruit is removed, and they are dried. The beans are then roasted and sent out into the world. Where Blue Mountain coffee differs is not in the procedure, but within the details of each step:
- Pulp removing: Most coffee producers remove the pulp the day following the harvest. Jamaican Blue Mountain farmers go through the depulping process the same day the seeds are picked.
- Wet-processing: Coffee from this region is wet washed: the flesh of the fruit is mechanically removed from the beans. The remaining “green” beans are then rinsed with water to ensure no remaining pulp is left behind.
- Sun drying: There are several ways for green beans to be dried. Jamaican Blue Mountain beans, however, go through 100% sun drying.
- Hulling: Because the hull can affect the taste, before Blue Mountain beans are sent out to be roasted they are also hulled. Hulling is a process of removing the thin paper-like skin from the outside of the bean.
Interesting facts about Blue Mountain coffee
- Traditional Blue Mountain. Traditionally, only coffee grown at elevations between 910m and 1,700m could be called Jamaica Blue Mountain. Coffee grown at elevations between 460m and 910m is called Jamaica High Mountain, and coffee grown below 460m elevation is called Jamaica Supreme or Jamaica Low Mountain. All land in Jamaica above 1,700m is a forest preserve, so no coffee is grown there.
- Three types of grades. Not all Jamaican coffee is created equal. There are generally three types of grades of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee ranked by size and defects: #1 – the largest beans with least defects, followed by #2 and #3 beans.
- Beans density. Generally, in the coffee growing world, the higher the growing altitude, the harder the bean; the harder the coffee bean, the higher the quality. Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans are hard, and thus high qualities.
- 80% of exported to Japan. Over 80% of the total crop of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to connoisseurs in Japan. This leaves only 20% of the already rare coffee going to the rest of the world.
- The traditional Jamaican way of brewing coffee is putting the grounds into a cotton bag and immersing it in hot water.
- Transported in wooden barrels. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is the only beans in the world to be transported in wooden barrels instead of bags.
100% Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Blue Mountain coffee is one of Jamaica’s greatest treasures. Actually it’s liquid gold — one of the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee in the world.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is a globally protected certification mark. To qualify as genuine Jamaican Blue Mountain, cultivation is tightly controlled and each shipment must be certified and labelled by the Jamaica Commodities Regulatory Authority. Only coffee certified by it can be labelled as such.
Bits and bytes from the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee history
Before delving into the history of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, I’d like to remind you that there are two main types of coffee – Robusta or Arabica varieties. Robusta is easier to cultivate but are less flavorful and less consistent in quality than Arabica. Arabica coffees are well known for consistent quality, bold flavor, and intense aroma. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is an Arabica coffee.
The coffee was introduced to Jamaica in 1728 when Sir Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica, imported Arabica seedlings from the island of Martinique. Back then, Jamaica coffee production was with the abhorrent practice of slavery.
Coffee was first exported from the island, primarily to the U.K., around 1737. By 1814, Jamaica had reached its peak production of about 34 million pounds (it’s less than half that today), and Blue Mountain had become known as “the coffee of kings and queens” and “the king of all coffee.”
Upon achieving independence, the new Jamaican government continued to invest in coffee cultivation. After two centuries of production, its fame and price is still upheld by coffee connoisseurs around the world.
The only way to know whether Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is really worth the big extra price is to try it yourself. Perhaps, a subtle suggestion or hint for your next birthday or a holiday gift will provide you the opportunity.