Why Drink Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee?

The history of coffee growing in Jamaica is long and varied. It has grown from a slave based industry to a series of plantation growing and roasting companies that is the basis of the industry as we know it today.

Coffee growing in Jamaica was introduced by the British. In 1730,the then governor of Jamaica Sir Nicholas Lawes  imported Arabica seedlings from the island of Martinique. These were cultivated initially in the foothills of the Blue Mountain Range around St Andrew. This gradually expanded into the Blue Mountains themselves up until 1768.

Over the subsequent decades and indeed centuries efforts were made to upgrade the quality of the coffee produced. However events were accelerated in 1943 when Canada refused to accept any further imports of coffee from Jamaica. At this time Canada was the main importer of Jamaican coffee in the world.

In response to this the Jamaican Government set up the Central Coffee Clearing House. This was in an effort to control the grading and quality process of the coffee being produced.

Subsequently the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica was set up in 1950. This then led to the Jamaican Government passing an Act in 1953 controlling the naming and grading of certain types of coffee.

Specifically, this was the Coffee Industry Regulation Act 1953 Regulation 2. This act specified what name that a coffee bean grown in a certain region of Jamaica could be called.

It also specified what size and type of coffee bean could be used in a specific type of coffee. This led to what is known as the Blue Mountain Range of coffee we know today.

It is a coffee much desired and sought after the world over. This applies to connoisseurs ,lay people and, indeed, members of the aristocracy alike.

The Blue Mountains of Jamaica are located between Kingston in the South and Port Antonio to the North. These mountains rise to a height of 7500ft (2300m) , making them some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean.

The climate in this region is predominantly cool and misty with a relatively high rainfall. This, combined with an abundance of rich, fertile soil and good drainage make it especially suited to the growing of coffee.

Quite often these mountains are shrouded in mist. This feature has led  to it being called the Blue Mountain Range. The mist also protects the coffee plants from the worst ravages of the tropical sun.

The Coffee Industry Regulation Act specifies what coffee can use the Blue Mountain label. These coffees are authorised and certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. This covers certain areas in Jamaica, namely those of Saint Andrew, Saint Thomas, Portland and Saint Mary. Only coffee grown in these areas can rightly be named Blue Mountain Coffee.

There are three types of coffee grown in Jamaica.

Coffee grown at an altitude between 3000 and 5000ft (1700m) is called Jamaica Blue Mountain.

Coffee grown between 1500 and 3000ft (910m) is called Jamaica High Mountain.

Coffee grown below 1500ft (460m) is called Jamaica Supreme or Jamaica Low Mountain.

In Jamaica all land over 5500ft is classed as a forest preserve. No coffee growing or other type of cultivation takes place in these areas.

The Coffee Industry Regulation Act 1953 Regulation 2 allows for five classifications of coffee in the Blue Mountain Range. These are:

BLUE MOUNTAIN NO1- 96% of all the beans to have a screen size 17/20 whilst containing no more than 2% defects.

BLUE MOUNTAIN NO2- 96% of all the beans to have a screen size 16/17 whilst containing no more than 2% defects.

BLUE MOUNTAIN NO3-96%of all the beans to have a screen size 15/16 whilst containing no more than 2% defects.

BLUE MOUNTAIN PEABERRY-beans with a screen size below 15 whilst containing no more than 2% defects.

BLUE MOUNTAIN TRIAGE- beans from all four of the classes whilst containing no more than 4% defects.

In all of the classifications there must be no ‘elephant beans’. They must also be of a Bluish green or uniform colour and must be free of all foreign matter. Black and sour beans are not allowed.

These growing conditions described, together with the strict screening and quality control process give blue Mountain Coffee it’s distinct flavour. It is invariably described as having an intense aroma with fairly good body and free from any off-flavours.

This makes Blue Mountain an ideal coffee for those with a discerning palate, which means that it suits those of us looking for a new coffee experience.

In keeping with the standard of excellence imposed by Blue Mountain Coffee, it should be noted that these coffee beans are specifically used in the manufacture of Tia Maria. This is an exclusive coffee based liqueur.

An ideal accompaniment with a cup of Blue Mountain  No 1 grade.

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