100% Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee coffee buzz
US based AleSmith Brewing Company and Mostra Coffee launched
‘Jamaica Blue Mountain Speedway Stout’ since March.
Since its launch online fans have been mostly supportive but some question the use of high quality coffee as a “quirk”.
The team will source beans from Mavis Bank Coffee Factory in Jamaica makers or JABLUM.
The company says that US based coffee roaster, Mostra Coffee carefully roasted and cold brewed Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans to complement its award winning Speedway Stout.
They will lightly roast the coffee to enhance aromas and well-balanced chocolaty finish and add to the stout.
“Thanks to Mosta’s diligent work, these 100% Blue Mountain beans were sourced from the renowned Mavis Bank Coffee Factory in Jamaica,” added the company.
Speaking about the collaboration, Mike Arquines, Roaster for Mostra Coffee said, “This opportunity is surreal. Prior to this collaboration, AleSmith was one of my all-time favorite breweries! Speedway Stout was my first “gateway” craft beer experience. It blew my mind because I didn’t know that beer could taste like this. My Mostra team and I feel like this has been a match made in craft beer and coffee heaven because it brings together two companies who pride themselves with being able to provide an un-compromised experience and product. Cheers to more amazing collaborations in the future!”
George Allen, General Manager for AleSmith echoed Mike’s sentiments about the collaboration, “AleSmith prides itself on sourcing the highest quality coffees for our single varietal Speedway Stouts. With this in mind, we reached out to local roaster, Mostra Coffee. Mostra shares our commitment to quality and bettering the customer experience. After several cupping sessions we found the perfect match in Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. “
The beer goes on sale online (via Brown Paper Tickets) on Monday, March 3rd and AleSmith will host a release party at the brewery on Saturday, March 8th.
About AleSmith Brewing Company
AleSmith Brewing Company was founded in August 1995 in San Diego, California. The company currently employs 28 people and is projected to brew 15,000 barrels in 2014.
About Mostra Coffee
Mosta Coffee is a San Diego, California based artisan micro-roasting company that sources, roasts, brews and serves premium, fair-trade specialty coffee.
Coffee seedlings from the Blue Mountain range in Jamaica spawned commercial coffees from Kenya and Papua New Guinea in the 1900s.
Back in the 1700s coffee was introduced to Jamaica from Martinique according to the Coffee Board of Jamaica. At that time, Martinque a small French territory boasted 16 million coffee plants. Today it remains but a shadow of its former caffinated state.
Interestingly the same fate may meet its three descendant coffee territories as each suffers the one of the worst declines in nearly two decades.
However replanting efforts in Jamaica along with new farming practices in Kenya and PNG supported by loans from the World Bank and secondly its private sector lending arm the IFC respectively aim to resuscitate the sector.
For instance Jamaica’s coffee production is set to decline by half for the upcoming crop, experts indicate. Farmers blame rust disease and abandoned farms based on lower prices since the 2008 Western financial crisis. Ironically prices are now at record levels both on the premium coffee market and coffee commodities exchange . Farmers are clamouring back into the sector but it might take the length of an entire crop to rejuvenate coffee farms–thus creating disequilibrium and higher prices to consumers.
PNG coffee production declined by since coffee commodity prices dipped three years ago according to World Bank. Farmers not surprisingly abandoned farms. Prices are down some 23 per cent since the 90s data indicates.The World Bank will pump US$46 million in PNG agriculture in a campaign in part geared at rejuvenating the coffee industry hit with declining yields. The project aims to increase yields and hopefully pricing by replanting aging trees, some as old as 40 years, training in best practises, providing tools and paving farm-to-market roads.
Interestingly, PNG Blue Mountain Gold coffee sells for one-third of Jamaica Blue Mountain the project aims to cut that divide.
Kenya the 20th largest producer of coffee globally has suffered from a 60 per cent drop in production since the 90s (a similar level as Jamaica compared over same period), IFC data indicates.
” Decreased productivity has been in part the result of reductions in government programs that provide technical advice to farmers. Small farmers—responsible for about three-quarters of Kenya’s coffee production—have been most affected by the reduction in government support,” according to the IFC in its 2013 document Rebuilding the Kenyan Coffee Sector,
The IFC project aims to train hundreds of key farmers to in turn train thousands in best practices. Its a serious move that ultimately aims at double farmer annual income
“The project is expected to reach 9,000 farmers and raise their yield per bush to between four and five kilograms of cherry, resulting in an additional 120 kilograms of beans. This productivity gain should help more than double the gross annual income of a typical grower from less than $200 to $475,” stated the IFC in its document.
The African state sells its own Kenya Blue Mountain coffee.
The good news is that coffee from these three nations should recover and provide a decent living for thousands of farmers, whilst providing the perfect cup.
Good coffee costs up to US$8 a cup in Eastern Europe. Among the most expensive globally. So the fact that Russians and Ukrainians flock for bargain luxury coffee deals online is logical.
Nothing like the chocolatey aroma and lemon hints aroma of a balanced Blue Mountain cup to warm the bitter winter. Even better when a cup effectively costs US$3 because it eliminated the middle-man.
But what becomes illogical is enjoying coffee in conflict.
Putin’s intervention influenced a spike in global oil prices–the most traded commodity. It increased some 10 per cent February to March to US$104 a barrel (amid fears oil rich Russia would plug gas and oil pipelines running through Ukraine).
However the second most traded commodity–coffee also saw a rise during the same period (February to March) albeit a much higher spike up nearly 2/3rds from 120 to 196. Its blamed on drought in Brazil among the largest coffee producing nations.
It however is happening amid the heightened Ukraine conflict. It will no doubt result in a more expensive cup of coffee for this region.
Despite this impact–the true tragedy is death and conflict and not the cost of a caffeine fix.
Jamaica Agriculture minister roger Clarke wants coffee farmers in the jamaica blue mountain and high mountain regions of Jamaica to hike coffee yields amidst a record fall off in production.
“What would u say is the average yield per acre of coffee?” Asked the minister to coffee experts and large farmers in February 2014.
Head of amber estate Dr Lyn which recently supplied Starbucks responded to the agreement of other farmers: ” would say 30-40 boxes per acre.”
Contextually the industry in the past produced multiples.
“I would say a profitable farm would produce 100 boxes an acre,” lynx added.
The coffee nation of Jamaica will hike imports amidst slashing its local production by nearly half to 20-year lows.
Consequently, Government aims to formulate a coffee importation policy.
“Its a troubling situation,” said John Minott, president of the Jamaica Coffee Growers Association, (JCGA) at the Coffee Industry Stakeholders Retreat on the weekend at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
Rust disease, hurricanes and the abandonment of farms has reduced available trees and therefore production since the onset of the Western financial crisis in 2008.
“It’s not something that the JCGA is trying to promote but the stark reality is that today…we have to import coffee for certain segments of the market.”
Minott argued for an importation window during which replanting should occur.
Coffee imports hit some US$1.78 million in 2012 up some 23 per cent since 2008, according to data from the International Trade Centre (ITC) a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations.
Contrastingly, exports dipped by double-digit levels to some US$17.3 million in 2012, according to the latest Bank of Jamaica data. But the crop traditionally earned about US$25 million annually up to the onset of the financial crisis.
Demand and supply actually turned coffee farmers into rock stars for the ensuing crop. Last year no one wanted to farm now younger folk are jumping on their grandparents land to til the soil for coffee production.
–“There is a security guard at [large supermarket], I now see him up in the hills at his family farm…I haven’t seen him in years,” said a key coffee source in conversation with Jamaicamocha.
This year experts–literally in the field–predict a 30 per cent dip in coffee production in the luxurious soils of the Blue Mountains. Of course good old economics indicates that whenever supply is reduced and demand remains price will rise.
–“Coffee farmers are getting the best rates ever. But the crop is down to nothing,” said an operations manager at one of the largest processors in the island.
Coffee farmers are getting flocked by processors begging to sell them beans and will pay up front and at inflated prices. We recon at least 20 per cent above market in order to at compensate for local currency depreciation year on year.
Its significant remember that total coffee exports dropped from US$30 million annually before the Western Financial crisis to some US$14 million in 2012 (latest figures indicate). During that period farmers were getting roughly the same per box of cherry at about US25. However inflation and depreciation cut that away to about US$15 a box over five years.
–“Him beg me to sell him coffee,” said a respected farmer who opted for anonymity in reference to a large processor trying to secure future supply from his crop.
–“You want peaberries. You better take what you get because we not sure if there will be any coffee soon,” a major distributor told me via a purchase.
The coffee farmer has a hoe for a guitar and is flocked by businessmen. Now he finally has the financial incentive to make the best legal drug in the world.
Rust might slash coffee sales by $5 million or roughly 30% for this current crop, say experts.
As a result, coffee players will launch a fertilizer drive to stem the spread of the deadly rust. They will offer the fertilizer upfront to farmers to rid rust which essentially robs the beans of nutrients rendering them useless for reaping.
It’s a disease that’s also spreading into Central America causing millions in damage.
Coffee earned Jamaica US$13 m in 2012 but about five prior it earned twice that amount. But the sector has been hit by lower demand, storms and rust.
Senator Norman Grant head of the largest Jamaica Blue Mountain processor–Mavis Bank Coffee Factory makers of JABLUM says, “while efforts have been made to control the coffee leaf rust disease, the industry is still under threat as this account could cost the industry as much as US $5m of revenue for the current crop. A national emergency response is required to address the spread of the disease.”
Simply put Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) is the premium brand and Jamaica High Mountain is the satisfactory fighter brand.
Jamaica Blue Mountain should taste complex with initial tones of chocolate which transfers to hints of brown sugar and then lemon on the back end without any bitterness. In other words three layers of taste or tri-tones. In reality most cups will have two layers rather than three and offer chocolate and nut without the bitterness. Or chocolate and lemon. Regardless of the number of layers it should be balanced and not taste like hot water.
High Mountain on the other hand offers a deeper chocolate taste in part due to darker roasts but also heavier body and a more masculine profile. Its profile then offers a transition from cocoa to heavy nut with some amount of bubbly acidity and slight bitterness. It makes a cup daily cup but will not usually offer complex tri-tones like properly curated Blue Mountain. Its also less balanced and the swings of chocolate to bitter isn’t uncommon. But there are some great batches of High Mountain that can offer more satisfaction than Blue Mountain particularly for those who want a chocolate affair especially with milk.
Price. Jamaica Blue Mountain retails for about $25 per 8oz or basically twice the price of high mountain. There are some exceptions in price with newer brands seeking to slash margins to make sales. But generally stick to known brands at higher costs. You basically get value for money. Why. Because even today a few roasters don’t drink coffee in Jamaica. So they can’t tell a botched roast job or not.
Brands. Established Jamaica Blue Mountain brands include Wallenford, Jablum, Coffee Traders, Coffee Roasters, Marley Coffee, Amber Estate and Twymans. There are others but these are the ones in the main. The newer ones include brands like Plantation Blue and Stoneleigh.
Of course the profile changes based on many farming factors including luck. But generally speaking, I find that Twymans and Amber are most consistently in offering tri-tones while most of the others will give amazing two-tones. Its probably due to the single estate nature of these beans and the love that these farmer-owners put into each bag. Actually yes, they are proud of their coffee and would invite anyone to share a joke with them over a fresh brew. I also have to make honourable mention of Marley in the gold bag which I also find the right balance of chocolate and lemon. The right balance of amazing.
It therefore sets up questions about the oldest brands in the business: Wallenford and Jablum. They are good but will generally offer two-tones rather than amazing three tones. Anyone can disagree. Its just my opinion. It is getting better but when a company is the oldest and the largest (Wallenford owners bought out Jablum) you buy from thousands of farmers and the profile moves from knowing every bean to capitalism. But its still good and I’m actually drinking Wallenford now.
High Mountain on the other hand, is dominated by the Minott family controlled Jamaica Standard Products Limited. The company masterfully calls its brand the name of the region of coffee–Jamaica High Mountain.
Geographically JBM is grown at an elevation beyond 2,000 ft in the mountain range of the Blue Mountains on the easterly side of Jamaica. While High mountain comes from various areas in the island but particularly, the other side of the island.
JBM is serious coffee and the microclimate offers that premium super luxury taste that’s renowned globally. That said, High Mountain is the better choice for mixed milk based drinks including cappos, lattes and the sort.
The cafe culture is nothing new to developed world but for jamaica it’s novel.
This coffee producing nation actually exports most of its quality beans. It simply means Jamaicans tend to NOT drink coffee at all; and if they do it’s likely to be cheap imported nestle instant coffee.
It’s a strange counterintuitive reality that the average Jamaican doesn’t know how good coffee tastes. But that’s changing.
A cafe culture is being reintroduced to jamaica serving the best beans via a slew of new cafés. It appeals to the middle class travelled professional that watches CNN or the Kardashians. It’s being driven by coffee companies seeking to compensate from the reduced sales from main export market japan. That economy traditionally buys 85% of the coffee crop but in last 5 years cut orders. Coffee used to earn jamaica $30 million annually now it brings in some $11 million (2012) , according to official statistics.
Since last 12 months new cafés in Kingston alone, have sprung up like cafeinated highs including:
Grosvenor gallery cafe,
Spanish court cafe,
Cannonball new sovereign
Cafe in Digicel building,
Javha in marketplace, and
CPJ Cafe in courtyard -Cpj centre.
Concurrently there was not a reduction in poll of cafés over the period. Only wallenford cafe closed due to its location within the hotel at the Wyndham hotel–due to fire.
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