Smooth, dark, handsome and everyone wants a sip. The unexpectedly sweet and chocolatey flavor of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee has garnered an impeccable reputation and is among the rarest, most expensive coffee beans in the world. This global delicacy is often copied by imposters, but the unmistakable taste can never be duplicated. Its unique growing conditions, strict quality standards, scarcity, and damn good flavor make this roast one of the most coveted cups of coffee known to man. Before your lips meet the charming floral aroma of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, here is everything you need to know about what makes this caffeinated gold such an international sensation.
Much like champagne is to France, authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee trees must be cultivated in the Blue Mountains at 3,000-5,500 feet above sea level in the parishes of Saint Andrew, Saint Mary, Saint Thomas, and Portland. At this high altitude, the coffee beans grow harder and denser than average, allowing the flavor to deepen to maximum perfection. Harvesting the crop is no walk in the park, either. Because of the steep mountainside terrain, often reaching a slope of 70 degrees, the coffee beans must be handpicked, making it an incredibly labor-intensive process.
Because Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is so revered, quality enforcement is particularly strict. The Coffee Industry Board, a division of the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, has set extremely specific criteria for the growing, harvesting, sorting and roasting of Blue Mountain coffee. Every bean must be approved by the Coffee Industry Board in order to be awarded the globally protected certification mark. When purchasing genuine Blue Mountain beans, look for the coffee board stamp consisting of a mountain, a map, a barrel and coffee beans within a blue circle.
Just as exclusive as the most popular clubs on the Hip Strip, only the best beans can claim the title of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Today, most roasters filter coffee beans with sorting machines in large factories, but that’s no way to treat caffeinated royalty. Every single Blue Mountain bean is separated and inspected by hand. Any imperfections such as being too small or having too many holes from borer beetles are unacceptable and result in the beans being categorized as “Select” or kept for domestic use. On average, only about 85% of the crop will make it through the rigorous inspection process.
Jamaica produces about 4-5 million pounds of coffee each year, contributing to less than .1% of the world’s coffee supply. Blue Mountain coffee accounts for even less than that, truly making it a scarce delicacy. While this coffee is already extremely scarce, Japan imports over 80% of the beans annually, leaving only 20% for the rest of the world.
Starting at USD$58 per pound, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans are some of the most expensive in the world. It’s no wonder why unscrupulous growers try to cash in on its reputation while selling a diluted or down-right duped version with the same price tag as the real deal. If you’re holding a pre-packaged bag of “Blue Mountain” coffee in the grocery store aisles of Europe or the USA, chances are, it’s either a blend or a phony fraud. Because Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is an internationally-protected brand, the packaging will always have the approved stamp of the Coffee Industry Board.
During your Caribbean getaway, don’t miss the rare opportunity to get your hands on a cup of authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, overflowing with its naturally sweet flavor and enchanting floral aroma. The S Hotel Jamaica is just moments away from an array of coffee shops and restaurants that proudly serve this country’s finest treasure. Learn more about the local area and popular attractions surrounding our vibrant hotel in Montego Bay.