Over the past few decades, Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a globally protected certification mark, meaning only coffee certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica can be labeled as such. It comes from a recognised growing region in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica, and its cultivation is monitored by the Coffee Industry Board (See below) of Jamaica.
- Size – 10,991 sq km
- Capital City – Kingston
- Population – 2,970,340 (July 2016)
- Language/s Spoken – English (official), English patois
Coffee production in Jamaica
- Population Involved in Coffee – around 10,000 farmers
- Average Farm Size – < 1 hectare
- Bags Exported Annually – 21,000 (60 kg) bags
- Jamaica Coffee Profile
Growing Regions – Blue Mountains
- Common Varieties – Bourbon, Typica, Blue Mountain
- Processing Method – Washed
- Bag Size – 30–60 kg bags or barrels
- Harvest Period – January–March
History Coffee Jamaica
Coffee legend tells the tale of the French naval explorer named Gabriel de Clieu, who is widely (and probably falsely) given sole credit for transporting the first coffee plant from France to the island of Martinique in the Caribbean, but it is said that his coffee plant is the parent of the very first farms in the New World. Sir Nicholas Laws, the governor of Jamaica in 1725, allegedly bought seedlings that were descendants of de Clieu’s plant, thereby beginning the story of coffee in Jamaica.
Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica
The Jamaican coffee crop is subject to the standards and controls of the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica (CIB) which encourages the development of Jamaica’s coffee industry, protects the quality of the product (e.g., Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee), and promotes the welfare and betterment of the coffee farmers and others in the coffee industry.
The Coffee Board is involved with monitoring and licensing the many aspects of Jamaica’s coffee industry including coffee farms, nurseries, coffee processors, coffee dealers, and also consumers.
Coffee Blue Mountain
The Blue Mountain region, Jamaica’s highest-elevation area, is also one of the highest-profile coffee-growing regions in the world, in large part because of the limited supply of the coffees, and the island’s worldwide renown as a luxury vacation destination lends an air of exoticism and romance to the coffees for those who have visited (or dreamed of visiting) the island.
Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region is north of Kingston and south of Port Maria, with Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee-growing estates located at elevations between 3,000 feet (914 meters) and 5,500 feet (1,676 meters), while lesser coffees are grown at lower elevations.
Jamaica High Mountain is grown between 1,500 and 3,000 feet and Jamaica Supreme/Jamaica Low Mountain grown below 1,500 feet.
Blue Mountain coffees are so significant to the coffee economy of Jamaica that the coffees themselves need to be inspected and certified by the Coffee Industry Board before being labeled with the Blue Mountain name.
Climate and Terrain of Blue Mountain Coffee Growing Areas
The unique Blue Mountain growing region features an ideal coffee-growing terrain and climate – misty and cool with lots of rain along with great soil drainage. This area contains some of the Caribbean’s highest coffee-growing regions.
Though the Blue Mountains rise to 7,402 feet, no coffee is grown above 5,500 feet because this area is maintained as a Forest Reserve.
The average Jamaican farmer has between 80–175 coffee trees, and collects their coffee cherries in boxes (equal to 60 pounds) to sell to the processor or mill. A 60-pound box of cherries will yield about 12 pounds exportable green coffee.
Expand Blue Mountain Coffee growing regions
Recently, the country’s minister of industry, commerce, agriculture, and fisheries began encouraging farmers to expand coffee production to regions outside of the famous Blue Mountains, which would allow the country to create “Blue Mountain blends” of high- and lowland crops to maximize commercial output. It would also create a base of coffees more readily available for domestic consumption, as the vast majority of Blue Mountain coffee is sold on the international market – primarily to Japanese buyers – – at great value.