Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee: Taste, Plantation, Best Products
If you love coffee or know anything about coffee the chances are that you already know about Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and have taken it at some point. Many people will also know it for its hefty price tag as you will hardly ever pay anything less than $60 for a small 16-ounce pack.
But, this mystical coffee is not all hype because anyone that has takes it will admit that it is one of the best coffees in the world. And there are many things that help make this coffee special from the growing conditions to the careful hand-picking, post-harvest handling, and processing.
In this piece, we help shed more light on what makes the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee stand out from the many other coffee types out there.
Every coffee aficionado and fanatic has something that drives him or her to a certain coffee type. And while the same is true with the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, there are certain things that make it special. They include the taste, flavor, aroma and growing conditions.
Taste and Flavor – One of the most distinctive features of this coffee is that it is a silky smooth and well-balanced coffee with a full body. This coffee also exhibits a more refined, classic and mid taste and also has a slight but quite unusual sweet flavor which many coffee lovers will find irresistible.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is also richer than most other types and is sometimes almost creamy. This complex taste can sometimes be chocolaty and despite being very vibrant, the taste is clean and with no bitterness.
Aroma – While like any other coffee, the aroma will depend on several factors such as the age of the beans and roasting process, the best Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee will have a bold but still sparkling aroma characterized by floral notes and with some nutty and sweet herbal overtones.
Growing Conditions – Judging from the name, it is obvious that this coffee comes from Jamaica. However, it does not grow just anywhere in Jamaica. For any coffee to be called Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee it must be grown at altitudes of between 3,000 and 5,500 feet in the parishes of St Thomas, St Andrew, St Mary or Portland.
History of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Planting
Coffee has been grown in Jamaica for over 300 years now and while some accounts credit the Dutch with bringing it over as they were smuggling coffee plants from Mocha, many coffee historians agree that it was actually the French that brought the first coffee plant to Jamaica.
The most widely accepted account of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee origin is that it originated from a French King's decision to send 3 coffee plants to Martinique in 1723. And 5 years later, the Jamaican governor received one coffee plant as a gift from the governor of Martinique.
It is believed that most of Jamaica's coffee plants originated from that one Arabica coffee plant which was planted and nurtured in St Andrew parish before coffee planting eventually extended into the Blue Mountains region. And because Arabica coffee loves phosphorous and nitrogen-rich soil, this explains why it thrived on the steep elevation of the Blue Mountains.
How Is It Produced?
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is produced at altitudes of at least 3,000 feet and in four parishes (St. Andrew, St. Mary, St. Thomas and Portland) in an area that is about 6,000 hectares. And while there are a few large coffee estates, most of the coffee is produces by small scale coffee farmers that hardly have more than 4 hectares.
Given the relatively smaller growing area, annual production ranges between 400 and 1,000 metric tons which are quite small by world standards. The total amount of Blue Mountain coffee produced is just a mere 0.1% of what Columbia produces and is also quite tiny when compared to the 800 million pounds of coffee produced in Ethiopia every year.
Also, About 55% of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is exported and about 80% of this ends up in the Japanese market leaving the rest of the world to scramble for the remaining 20% which further explains the high price tag.
This coffee is also ranked in numbers depending on the bean size and defects. Number 1 beans are the largest and with the least defects followed by number 2 and 3. Also, there are Peaberry beans which unlike others that are usually flat are shaped like a rugby ball.
The three key secrets to the awesome quality and taste of the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee are high altitudes, great soils and meticulous care for the beans when harvested.
This coffee is grown in the Blue Mountain region specifically in the four parishes mentioned above and only coffee that is grown in this specific region will be certified as Blue Mountain by Jamaica's Coffee Industry Board.
These areas provide excellent coffee growing conditions with good terrain and a temperate climate characterized by misty and cool conditions and with sufficient rain. The Blue Mountain area also has fertile volcanic soils and will get an annual rainfall of about 200 inches and the temperatures average around 5 degrees Celsius.
These environmental factors will slow down the maturation of the coffee beans as they will take about 10 months from bloom to harvest which is almost double the time elsewhere (typically 5 to 6 months. But, the longer maturation period produces some larger and more complex beans with higher flavor concentration.
How is this Coffee Roasted?
Like with any other coffee type, the coffee roast for your Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee will ultimately depend on your preferences as a consumer.
However, it is recommended to go for a medium roast or medium-dark roast to get the best experience with the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. These roasts free up the flavors and the rich fragrances in the coffee but without losing other good coffee qualities.
But, you can get the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee in Peaberry, French, dark medium and light roasts as manufacturers provide different roasts to cater to different consumer tastes and preferences.
Best Ways to Brew It
If you get your hands on these sacred coffee beans, it will only be fair to make sure you brew them properly to ensure you get the best cup of coffee from them. And while you can use them to make coffee in almost any method, many coffee aficionados will agree that immersion is often the best method.
What makes immersion methods like French press, percolators and drip ideal is the fact that they allow you to extract every scrap of flavor from the beans. The hot water is more effective in penetrating through the beans and extracting more flavor and oils.
Handy Tips for Brewing Amazing Blue Mountain Coffee
- Keep the coffee beans fresh by storing them in a vacuum container and not in the fridge.
- Grind the coffee beans as close to brewing time as possible for maximum freshness.
- Time the brewing time super precisely. For example, exactly 4 minutes for French press.
- Always use filtered water to brew the coffee
- Make sure the water temperature is precise (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for French press).
Why is it So Expensive?
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most expensive types out there, and here are some reasons why you will need to pay extra bucks to get it.
Low Supply – It is grown in very limited space which means that little of it is produced every year. Given the low supply, the demand easily outstrips the supply and hence it is only natural for the price to go up.
Time Consuming Growth – Unlike the other coffee types, the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee takes longer to grow. In most instances, the bloom to maturity period is double of other coffee types. This longer growth time makes them even harder to produce in larger scale which further increases their price as there is less to go around during harvest time.
Japanese Market Factor – Another factor that makes this coffee super expensive is that the Japanese market takes up to 80% of the entire batch produced which means that there is only 20% left for the rest of the world to share. And so it always goes to those willing to pay the most money.
Cost of Production – Besides the limited space and longer growth time, there is also a higher cost of production involved in making this premium quality coffee. Given the steep terrain where it grows, in most cases, it can only be hand-picked which is often more expensive than using machines. Furthermore, every single coffee bean is hand-inspected which means it is a painstaking and labor-intensive process.
5 Best Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffees
There are many brands that produce, pack and sell these coffee beans and while most sell genuine ones others only offer cheap knockoff blends. But, here are top 5 Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee reviews for some recommendations.
Amazon is one of the best places to buy Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, and if you are looking for something that will give you an authentic taste, this one by Cubico Coffee is perfect. It is 100% Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee with zero blends.
These coffee beans are freshly roasted and with the roasting date clearly indicated on the pack to ensure you can easily pick the freshest roast. But what will truly stand out for many users is the nutty tobacco flavor with an amazing heavy mouthfeel.
Because these coffee beans come in a medium roast, you can be confident that they will preserve most of the coffee's flavors and that appealing Jamaican Blue Mountain aroma for longer.
While Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee can be quite pricey, you can still get it a more affordable price tag by going for a smaller pack like this 10-ounce one from Jeremiah's. But, besides providing a more affordable option, it is still a flavorful 100% Arabica coffee.
Although it is a blend, it has been carefully crafted from authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and other premium quality coffee beans from Central America which are also some of the most sort out across the globe.
Also, these coffee beans come in a medium roast which is always more preferable as it preserves the coffee’s natural flavors and aromas.
By spending a few extra bucks on your 16-ounce coffee beans pack, you can end up with this premium quality Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from Volcanica Coffee. And the best thing about it is that it is 100% authentic with no blends.
The beans are from Clydesdale which is one of the most famous coffee growing regions in St. Andrew parish, Jamaica. The growing area alone is enough indication that you will end up with smooth coffee with a strong and intense aroma that will give your day a perfect start.
Also, these coffee beans are medium roasted when you order to ensure maximum freshness, and they will offer a full flavor and a very clean taste with some easily noticeable sweetness for an unforgettable cup of coffee.
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Here is another top-notch option from Volcanica Coffee one of the best Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee brands, and the beans are 100% certified to give you some assurance that you will not end up with substandard blends.
Better yet, like with many of their other coffee beans options, Volcanica only roasts the beans when you place your order. And so you can buy with confidence that you will never end up with something that was roasted months ago.
The coffee beans come in a medium roast and they are also from the Clifton Mount Estate to ensure consistency in everything from the taste to the Aroma. Also, like with any other genuine Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, you will always get a full flavor and rich taste.
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For those that love espresso, Volcanica Coffee also has you covered with these Peaberry beans. They are a selection of the rarest beans that provide an intense and rich flavor which is just what every espresso lover wants.
These coffee beans provide a well-balanced flavor, an excellent body, and medium acidity. Also, the taste is smooth and clean, and the intense aroma will always make you look forward to your morning cup of coffee.
The beans come in a 16-ounce pack and in a medium roast to preserve the flavor and aroma. And to make it even better, the beans are only roasted when you place your order to ensure maximum freshness. Also, you can be sure that you are getting an authentic product as it is certified to be 100% Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
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For the coffee lovers that do not want to settle for anything short of top-notch and premium quality coffee, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is the way to go.
With a silky smooth, well-balanced full flavor and blissful aroma, this is the kind of coffee that will always leave your taste buds asking for more.
And because this is an expensive coffee, finding the best Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is only the first step as you still need to brew it correctly to get maximum flavors and a rich brew.
Besides providing an overview of what sets this amazing coffee apart from others, this piece also showcases some of the best brands on the market, and so it should now be easy to get the perfect one for you.