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Why Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is the Best
Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after crude oil.
Although Jamaica is well down on the list of coffee produced, producing approximately 13 to 14 million pounds per year, it has a well deserved reputation as one of the best Arabica coffees.
The Jamaican coffee industry has strict geographical boundaries, which define the coffee classified as Jamaican Blue Mountain. It is certified by rigid inspection by the Jamaican Coffee Industry Board that certifies cultivating, production and exportation.
Growing Blue Mountain Coffee in Jamaica
Blue Mountain Coffee is grown at elevations above 3000 ft. in the mountains close to Kingston which is a small geographical area as compared to other coffee growing countries.
Coffee plants need to be well watered, well drained and experience periodic coolness during some stages of development. The periodic coolness of the mists of the Blue Mountains and unusual volcanic soil give it its unique taste. Blue Mountain Coffee is sweet, aromatic, rich in flavour and full bodied with mild acidity.
Coffee trees are planted in small groups as the terrain can be as steep as 70 degrees making planting and cultivation a challenge. Trees grow up to 10 metres high, though they are kept at 3 meters to ease picking. Additionally, due to this geography the farms are small. Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee is cultivated, picked and the beans are sorted by hand making it extremely labour intensive. Due to cool mountain conditions, Jamaican coffee takes about twice as long to grown or about 10 months in comparison to other countries.
This and the fact that up to 80% is shipped to Japan make Blue Mt. Coffee scarce and therefore more expensive.
Blue Mountain Coffee is graded into: Blue Mountain No. 1-3, Pea Berry and Triage.
Other grades of Jamaican coffee include: High Mountain Supreme, Jamaican Prime and Jamaican Select.
A brief history
King Louis of France sent three coffee plants to the French colony of Martinique and five years later in 1728 Sir Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica, received a gift of one coffee plant from Martinique. And from that one plant the Jamaican coffee industry had its start.
The Haitian Revolution brought coffee growing Haitians to Jamaica but once emancipation took place many slaves left the coffee plantation to grow food and coffee production became a much smaller peasant crop. The industry decline came to a head when Canada, in 1943 refused to buy Jamaican coffee due to its poor quality. Government then stepped in to rehabilitate the coffee industry and the Coffee Industry Board was born.
Thanks to this highly regulated board, the Jamaican coffee industry has flourished and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is treasured around the world.