Jamaican coffee, and much of the rest of the Caribbean Islands, tends to be expensive because of the limited amount of production.
So, if you see some for $12 a pound, it can't possibly be real Blue Mountain but is either a blend with just a small amount of the real stuff or it is grown on the High Mountain that produces beans that don't come close to Blue Mountain quality.
When first introduced to Jamaica around 1728 it thrived, producing about a ton a year. After it was discovered that the beans grown in the Blue Mountains were vastly superior, that particular bean became a valuable and closely coveted asset.
The Blue Mountain area is on the Eastern part of Jamaica. Jamaican High Mountain refers to coffee grown outside the region. Blue Mountains are as high as 7,500 feet, some of the highest in the Caribbean. Climate has a lot of rainfall with cool and misty days. The rich soil has excellent drainage.
Jamaican Coffee from the Blue Mountain district has a clean and mild flavor with no bitterness whatsoever. Over 80% of these beans are exported to Japan, a country most of us don't think of when it comes to coffee!
But the Japanese prize a truly great cup of coffee as much or more than we think they like a good cup of tea. Blue Mountain beans are also used as the flavor base of Tia Maria coffee liqueur.
Jamaica has a certification board that is very picky about how it defines Blue Mountain coffee. There are certain elevations ineligible for the designation:
No beans are grown over 5500 feet above sea level even though the mountains are much higher:
Beans grown at 3000-5500 are officially Jamaican Blue Mountain; while those grown at 1500-3000 feet are called Jamaican High Mountain; 1500 feet and below is Jamaican Lowland or Jamaican Supreme. No sour, black or elephant beans are allowed to be included in any true Jamaican coffee.
True coffee Jamaica Blue Mountain has an intense aroma, tastes sweet and feels full to the palate. While it is true that it is the very best that the island has to offer, it produces other coffees that taste wonderful and have good quality and flavor.
High Mountain Supreme is one of them, with a very good body and acidity and fine aroma. Jamaican Prime is nearly as good and you don't lose quality till you get to Jamaica Select.
You will pay quite a bit for true Jamaican Coffee but once you taste it you'll not begrudge a cent that you paid. If authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain just can't fit into your budget you will find many fine blends that have a percentage of Blue Mountain along with other fine coffees.
Becoming familiar with the different regions and countries in which coffee is grown and their characteristics will allow you to make good choices in order to get the very best cup of coffee.
To read more about Jamaican Coffee, check out our article on Blue Mountain Coffee or just check out what Coffee Beans from Jamaica are available today.
Wherever you are, remember "Only Great Beans Make Great Coffee"!
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