Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

A History

The history of coffee-growing in Jamaica is long and varied. 

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. When Canada, the main importer of Jamaican coffee, refused in 1943 to accept any further imports of coffee from Jamaica, Jamaican coffee efforts intensified, and this was ultimately the catalyst that led to the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee that we know today.

About Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is much desired and sought-after the world over. This is mostly because of where the Blue Mountains are located. 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 makes it especially suited to the growing of coffee. The mist also protects the coffee plants from the intense of the tropical sun, making them that much more succulent. The Coffee Industry Regulation Act specifies what coffee can bear 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. Indeed, 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.

The growing conditions, combined with the strict screening and quality control process give Blue Mountain Coffee its distinct flavour. It is invariably described as having an intense aroma with good body, 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, the exclusive, coffee-based liqueur (which we would say is an ideal accompaniment with a cup of Blue Mountain No. 1 grade). 

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