Everything You Need To Know About Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
Grown at high altitudes in the cool, misty climates of the majestic Blue Mountains, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is one of the most sought-after coffees in the world. A unique mix of Jamaica’s island environments, strict growing regulations and an intricate production process all combine to create famous beans that are as vibrant in flavour as they are luxurious in reputation.
From how the island produces such rich, full-bodied beans to James Bond's favourite brew, here we take a closer look at Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and explore why it holds such an exclusive and revered position among coffee drinkers.
The java jargon decoder
If your love for coffee isn’t (yet) matched by an encyclopedic knowledge of industry terms, below you’ll find a handy breakdown of words relating to this article.
- Arabica - The most widely grown species of coffee plant.
- Typica - Thought to be the original variety of arabica from which other varieties such as Bourbon, Mundo Novo and Maragogype have mutated from.
- Varieties - In this instance, varieties refer to the different types of arabica. These vary genetically depending on characteristics such as leaf or fruit.
What’s special about Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee?
Grown at altitudes of 900-2350 metres, Jamaican coffee plants (of mostly arabica typica variety), thrive in the mountainous conditions of the majestic Blue Mountains - some of the highest peaks in the Caribbean.
In this environment, nitrogen and phosphorus-rich volcanic soils, high rainfall, optimum drainage and the protective shading and cooler temperatures of the island’s misty cloud coverage, all combine to produce a clean, subtle and nutty brew with a beautiful balance of aroma and a smooth acidity. Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is also known for its signature sweet aftertaste.
When it comes to Jamaica coffee, Blue Mountain coffee is also distinct in that unlike most coffees, it is packed in iconic wooden barrels rather than hessian or jute sacks.
Blue Mountain coffee history
Jamaica's coffee history begins with the story of a single coffee plant. In 1728, Sir Nicolas Lawes was gifted one coffee plant from the Governor of Martinique. Lawes, who was already experimenting with crop cultivation, planted this gift in the St Andrew parish, situated in the southeast region of Jamaica. Within nine years, Jamaica had exported its first coffee and although production was initially small-scale, by 1814 annual production totalled around 15,000 tonnes of coffee, with plantations spreading upwards from St Andrew’s parish.
This 18th-century boom was, however, short-lived. The abolition of slavery, changes in colonial trade agreements with Britain and poor management of plantations, drastically cut the output of Jamaica coffee beans to around 1,500 tonnes in 1850. Although production picked up at the end of the 19th century, Jamaica’s production has remained low until this day. In fact, Jamaica currently produces 0.1% of the world’s coffee, the same amount produced in three hours of Columbian production.
Another key date in Jamaica coffee history is 1950 when the Jamaica Coffee Board was set up to address issues of quality within the country’s coffee yields. Since its establishment, the Jamaica Coffee Board has helped give Blue Mountain coffee ‘best in the world’ status in the coffee industry, with the board thoroughly inspecting the size, colour and cut quality of beans. This time-consuming, laborious process has ensured superior quality as only the best beans go on to be roasted.
Did you know that Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee...
...is James Bond’s favourite brew? Bond writer Ian Fleming, who regularly took up residence on the island, featured the famous Jamaica roast in “Live and Let Die”. In the novel, (written at Fleming’s Goldeneye estate), 007 proclaims, “Blue Mountain Coffee — the most delicious in the world.”
Why is Jamaican Blue coffee so expensive?
Compared to other coffees, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is certainly pricier. There are a few main factors that influence these higher prices.
Firstly, to be classified as Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, beans must be grown above 900 metres in the protected plantations of Saint Thomas, Saint Andrew, Saint Mary and Portland. Outside of this protected and highly controlled area, coffees such as Jamaica Low Mountain, Jamaica Supreme and Jamaica High Mountain are grown. These coffees do not receive the Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee certification from the Jamaica Board. Limiting production to these areas means yields are lower, more exclusive and subsequently expensive.
Jamaica's coffee is also mostly sold to Japan (some estimates place this export level at 80%) so while demand is high, remaining beans that are certified Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee are low, causing prices to rise.
Responsible for certifying coffee beans, the Jamaica Coffee Board‘s time-consuming process of manual quality-checking coffee beans is another factor to consider. While this process ensures that only the best coffee is exported, it also raises the time and production costs of this world-renowned bean.
Alongside lengthy quality checks, harvesting Jamaican coffee is more laborious compared to other coffees. Grown at such high altitudes on potentially hazardous terrains of the steep Blue Mountain Ridge, it takes care and caution to harvest coffee beans. This again, slows down the process, adding to labour costs.
To rival Blue Mountain coffee prices, some producers and suppliers fraudulently market their coffee under the same name when in fact it is High Mountain Jamaican coffee or a blended product. Like Coffee-Direct.co.uk’s Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Blue Mountain coffee is always certified, so we recommend close inspection of product information and packaging before you make a purchase.
Our Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee
If you want to fully understand the hype around Blue Jamaican coffee, you need to try it. Certified by the coffee board in Jamaica, our Blue Mountain Jamaica coffee carries the globally protected certification mark. Unlike many other coffee brands, this means you’re brewing 100% authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee grounds or beans, rather than a blended product.
We also believe Coffee Direct is one of the best Jamaican coffee brands on the market for both taste and pricing. Our Jamaican Coffee is well priced compared to other Blue Mountain coffee sellers and through our process of expert roasting in small batches, the beans we produce have a superior and sophisticated flavour, lacking bitterness and giving you Blue Mountain coffee’s distinctive sweet and creamy aftertaste. You can also choose from whole beans or ground coffee to suit your preferred brewing method.
What our customers say about our Blue Mountain Jamaica Coffee
Here’s a snapshot of what our customers have to say about our famous roast...
“Best coffee in the world. This is the legendary Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and certainly, this one is as wonderful as it could be.”
Catherine M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“It's a smooth, intensely aromatic coffee, with low acidity. Persistent velvety, sweet aftertaste, with no bitterness.”
Carmen T. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Blue Mountain paradise. Fantastic deep, rich and intense coffee. It makes Mondays a great day. Big on flavour and aroma with a kick of caffeine you want.”
Kirk P. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“This is no doubt the best coffee in the world. Tried lots of others, nice but this has the edge.”
Linda S. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What is the recommended ratio of coffee to water for Jamaica coffee (Blue Mountain) brews?
This depends on your chosen brewing method. We recommend for cafetières you use 7g per 120-150ml of water and for filter machines, you use 30g per 500ml water.
How do I brew Jamaican coffee?
We often get asked how to make or brew Jamaica's mountain blue coffee serves. We find it’s most suitable for bean-to-cup, cafetière and filter machines.
How can I tell if Blue Mountain coffee (UK) suppliers are genuine?
Always check your coffee has the globally protected certification mark from the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. Products without a stamp from the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica may be more affordable but will not give you authentic coffee. Blue Mountains in Jamaica produce such incredible beans, don't let brands that cut costs give you an experience that is anything but the best.
Where can I buy Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (UK)?
Shop Coffee Direct for ground, whole bean, green bean and blended Blue Mountain Jamaica coffee options. With over 30 years experience delivering 100 variations of speciality roasts direct to your door, we are connoisseurs of variety, flavour and provenance.
Not sure which size bag you need? See How Many Cups each size provides.