Why is coffee from Blue Mountain, Jamaica so incredibly expensive?

Why is coffee from Blue Mountain, Jamaica so expensive? 

Simple demand, supply and the resultant price. 

People are drawn to the balanced cup that real Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee offers. It’s chocolatey infused with spice and fruit without bitterness. 

Additionally Japan demands it more than the rest of the world and buys 70% of total production. This results in 30% for the rest of world. Additionally the region that it’s grown in–the steep slopes of the Blue Mountains, limits cultivation in an is already limited zone. Its 8 hours of daily mist and fog crestes a natural green-house effect which slow ripens the beans.

Additionally the island offers a bespoke coffee made in traditions delevoped over hundreds of years. But that’s not to say farms aren’t investing in modern and new cultivation methods.

Some critics say that over the last 20years with the rise of Starbucks and specialty coffee, other regions have improved quality and now offer cups with similar quality to Jamaica Blue Mountain.

The truth is great coffee can come from anywhere but not all have same taste profile. In short, two handbags of the same size says nothing about the quality and style. A Louis Vuitton handbag will always maintain its value due to its quality and taste, so too with Jamaica Blue Mountain.

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Starbucks confirms Jamaica 

(May 4, 2017) –  Starbucks Coffee Company today announced it entered a geographic licensing agreement with Caribbean Coffee Traders Limited, a consortium led by Margaritaville Caribbean Group, a leading restaurant management and franchise operator in the Caribbean. The agreement grants Caribbean Coffee Traders the exclusive rights to own and operate Starbucks® stores in the country. Jamaica will be Starbucks 17th market in the Latin America and Caribbean region, with the first store slated to open in Montego Bay.

“Jamaica is a country blessed with a rich culture and heritage, particularly with its locally-grown and world renowned Blue Mountain coffee, which Starbucks has sourced as a specialty offering for over 40 years,” said Ricardo Rico, Starbucks general manager and vice president for Latin America operations. “We are delighted to build on this legacy and continue our expansion into the Caribbean by introducing the Starbucks Experience in Jamaica for the first time. As we position the brand for continued growth, we are proud to add Caribbean Coffee Traders to our strong network of licensing partners and leverage their proven market capabilities to reach new customers.”

Starbucks® stores in Jamaica will be operated by Caribbean Coffee Traders Limited, a joint venture between Ian Dear, Chief Executive Officer of Margaritaville Caribbean Group and Adam Stewart, who is also Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sandals Resorts International. Margaritaville Caribbean Group currently operates restaurant, entertainment and tour concepts throughout the Caribbean, and provides complete, multi-branded food and beverage experiences for major Caribbean tourism hubs. Margaritaville Caribbean Group’s brand portfolio includes a diverse collection of proprietary brands, international franchises, casual dining concepts, themed bars and popular quick service restaurants, including Wendy’s, Dominos, Dairy Queen, Quiznos, Auntie Annie’s, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Nathan’s. The group employs over 1,000 people throughout the region.

“We are thrilled to welcome Starbucks, a globally recognized brand, to Jamaica. Leveraging our knowledge of the local market, we will deliver upon the Starbucks Experience and create a global platform for Jamaica’s locally-grown and Blue Mountain© coffee.” said Ian Dear, Chief Executive Officer of Margaritaville Caribbean Group. “Our organizations share similar values, including our dedication to the customer experience, commitment to our crew members, and responsible corporate citizenship.”

For more than 45 years, Starbucks has built its brand by delivering a consistent, authentic in-store experience to customers around the globe that is rooted in high-quality arabica coffee and engaged, knowledgeable baristas. Since launching the brand in Latin America, Starbucks has grown to over 1,000 stores across 16 markets, 15 of which are operated by trusted licensing partners. In the Caribbean, Starbucks licensees currently operate 43 stores across Aruba, the Bahamas, Curacao, Puerto Rico, and most recently, Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica will become the company’s sixth market in the Caribbean region. 


Avoid bad Jamaica coffee 

Avoid bad Jamaican coffee by knowing what’s the best Jamaican coffee. 

Here’s a ranking list of the best Jamaican coffees.  

The bad coffees normally can come from overseas based mixed coffee which purports to be 100% authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain(JBM). Local brands that suck tended to come from one established brand. 

That brand occasionally put out questionable coffee on the local market. Good news however is that the brand was recently acquired. That resulted in the crosschecking of batches to ensure quality standards are maintained.

On another matter, buyers should never buy locally packaged coffee with unknown names. Things which seem too good to be true–usually disappoint.

 JBM usually sells for $25 per 8oz plus shipping. So JBM at $10-15 per 8oz is very fake. No one would buy a new BMW for $9,000, no one would trust it. Yet people risk their senses and health by purchasing cheap bulk coffee.

 If you are the one making the coffee open your senses. The aroma, fatness and evenness of the beans should be without reproach.  

The taste should be balanced with complex levels of flavour and no bitterness. 

Avoid bad coffee by knowing great coffees and sticking to them. Test brands you are not familiar with in small quantities and compare to established brands you know.

At Jamaicamocha we test all the coffee we sell and provide a fair no nonsense rank to inform your purchase consideration.


New Jamaica Blue Mountain k-cup pod from Coffee Roasters Jamaica

Coffee Roasters Jamaica (CRJ) led by the Fletcher family started selling its own single-serve k-cup Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee pods in December.
Its aimed at targeting the fastest-growing segment of the US coffee market. Mark Fletcher, chief executive officer, hopes that the k-cups will grow overall revenues at the company already benefiting from a one-third rise in exports year on year. The company has already sold about 100 k-cup cases in the US.
Few local companies sell their own branded single-cup brewed coffee. Its due in part to the focus on selling green beans to Japan and the industry’s sporadic sales to US which heavily demands k-cups.
CRJ and sister company Country Traders Ltd recently got a renewal inspection for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).

blumtn_kcup copy

Kingston Coffee Culture

Ten new cafes opened in Kingston over the last 12 months.
Its a record number of cafes in the struggling Jamaican economy. Moreover the city didn’t even drink quality coffee until recently. The farms instead chose to export the best grades to Japan and most Jamaicans drink cheap instant shit.
Reduced export earnings forced farms to find new markets and that new market is domestic. It has resulted in the Starbucks culture finally brewing its way into the island even without a phsyical store presence.
Kingston now probably has about 15-20 proper cafes. Many are within hotels but also on every decent mall. The owner of one of the pioneering cafes said: “Where are most of these cafes now. I expect them to continue disappearing in a year”.

Jamaica Blue Mountain farmers are rock stars

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.

coffee plants

–“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.