5 Things You Must Know About the Exotic Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee
Updated: Jan 26
Jamaica Blue Mountain® Coffee is known world-wide for its exquisite taste which is a result of the conditions under which it is grown. A rare coffee certified by the Jamaican regulators of the agricultural industry.
In this article, we share secrets of the Jamaica Blue Mountain® Coffee and offer recommendations for brewing and storage which may surprise you.
Have you tried Jamaica Blue Mountain® Coffee? If so, then tell us what you think of its taste and where you tasted it.
The Blue Mountain Terrain
Coffee needs to have been grown at an elevation between 3,000 feet (910 meters) and 5,500 feet (1,676 meters) for certifying as Jamaica Blue Mountain® Coffee. Anything above 5,500 feet (1,676 meters) in Jamaica is forest preserve and the law forbids for coffee to be grown.
The elevation plays a major role in the final quality of the beans. Anything grown under 1,500 feet (410 meters) is called Jamaica Supreme or Jamaica Low Mountain. It will produce a decent cup of coffee, but it will taste bitter, especially when compared to authentic Blue Mountain coffee.
The beans that are grown at an elevation between 1,500 feet (410 meters) and 3,000 feet (910 meters) are Jamaica High Mountain. They are more abundant then Blue Mountain beans, cheaper to buy, and generally do not taste as smooth.
The legally defined Blue Mountain range is between 3,000 feet (910 meters) and 5,500 feet (1,676 meters). So, anything grown in that range is authentic.
The Blue Mountain range itself is located on the Eastern end of the island and it consists of hilly and rugged terrain. The range covers 3 of 14 parishes and has Northern and Southern slopes.
When looked at from a distance, several steep-sided valleys give the mountains a blue appearance, hence the name, Jamaica Blue Mountains.
Globally Protected Brand
The Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, successor to the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica (CIB) has taken the extra step of authenticating Jamaica Blue Mountain® Coffee by awarding it a globally recognized certification mark and trademark. If it does not have the trademark image on the package, it is not authentic.
The certification mark state geographic origin of the goods, materials used, quality, a method of manufacturing, and accuracy.
Unfortunately, there are no criteria for what goes around as “Blue Mountain Blends”. If you end up purchasing a product that claims to be a blend, there is no assurance what percentage of the blend will be Blue Mountain® Coffee. In most cases, it is less than 10%.
Blue Mountain Coffee Cultivation
There is a long period of cultivation and inspection before designation as 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain, then sending to licensed sellers and distributors.
First, coffee is collected once it is completely red, or cherry ripe. Each farm takes care of its own collection by manual labor. Next, the beans are floated in water to remove the damaged underdeveloped ones.
All Blue Mountain® coffee is processed at the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory (MBCF). Once the farmers bring their selected coffee beans to the factory, the floating process is repeated.
Once the coffee has been floated by the MBFC, collectors come in and collect it daily for pulping. During this process, the coffee is further inspected and washed to remove the mucilage. The final product is the wet parchment.
Drying the wet parchment can take up to 5 days, it depends on the weather conditions. Often times factories use mechanical driers to get the moisture of the beans to specific levels.
If the above sounds like a tiring process, that is because it is. The next phase of getting the coffee ready for distribution is called the resting period. This period takes around 10 weeks and is critical to how good the beans will turn out. Only after the resting period is over, can the hulling of the beans begin.
The green bean only emerges once the outer shell (husk) has been removed. The bean is then polished to remove excessive silver skin, and finally it is ready for sorting.
Sorting is the final phase done by the Coffee Industry Board. It involves a process of grading beans based on size and color. This is to eliminate beans, and to determine the quality and set future price.
How to Brew Blue Mountain® Coffee
For best results, you must use immersion technique, such as drip pot, French Press or a percolator. Using this method will help you get every bit of flavor out of the ground coffee.
Immersion is the favorite method of brewing because it allows the hot water to pull out the oil better than any other method.
The perfect sizing is 2 level tablespoon of Blue Mountain Coffee per 8oz serving. Do not wait until the coffee is boiling, and for best taste, try to consume it within 45 minutes.
What is the Best Way to Store the Coffee
Contrary to popular belief, storing coffee in your freezer is not the best choice. Actually, it is not a good choice at all. Especially for coffee that does not cost $5.00.
Storing coffee, be it beans or ground, in a cold environment, robs the natural moisture from the product.
Instead, the best way to store your coffee is by using an air tight container that has a degassing valve. Most Blue Mountain® Coffee bags come equipped with this valve.
The container should then be stored in a dry, room temperature environment, not in the fridge or freezer.
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Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.
Jacqueline is a writer/editor with decades of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.