Wallenford is the oldest brand and was formerly the regulator of all JBM until Government split its regulatory from marketing functions in about the late 90s.
Island Blue is the newest but owns the largest non-blue mountain coffee lands.
Things to know about current ownership:
Wallenford was acquired by Canadian billionaire Michael Lee-Chin in 2013 and then in 2016 he also acquired Jablum.
IslandBlue was formerly called ‘Wallenford Blue’ but ceased paying royalties for the use of the name when Wallenford was acquired by Lee-Chin. Island Blue is owned by Jamaica Standard Products (JSP) which buys Jamaica Blue Mountain beans and brands it as Island Blue. JSP also separately operates the largest Jamaica High Mountain factory in the island. High Mountain coffee is farmed outside the Jamaica Blue Mountain region. Its High Mountain products are not branded as Island Blue.
Things to know about taste profile.
Wallenford and Jablum are both large JBM producers and now owned by a common company. Both brands share space and facilities now. It is not immediately clear whether all buying and roasting operations are amalgamated. A general tip however is that Wallenford offers a chocolatey nutty and lemon almost wine taste profile while Jablum is light cocoa and at times hazelnut to vanilla.
Tones of chocolate, nut and spice without bitterness. That’s the classic taste profile of Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM). In other words three distinct layers of tastes. The profile can vacillate slightly with more curated brands offering a transition between chocolate, spice and fruit.
The complexity and smoothness gained a reputation since the 1960s as a coffee that stood world’s apart from your typical cup. Context is important. The 60s was an era before Starbucks, when instant coffee was largely prevalent. Additionally, the average coffee drinker opened a can of dark roasted ground beans. The industry at the time was set on delivering the cheapest cup. That often meant dark very bitter brew. Besides if people had an issue they just added sugar and milk.
Within this era of mass bitter coffee was a beverage from Jamaica that could be consumed black! A brew that allowed the subtle layers of tones to cover the palette of its drinker. No doubt this resulted in it being a delicacy which fetched a premium price.
Then came Starbuck cafes. Its entry largely killed the canned bitter coffee market and resulted in shifting the value chain from cheap to tasty beans. It resulted in the world adopting farming, harvesting, producing and brewing practices that were standard in places like Jamaica and other high end quality coffee nations. The result commodity beans are more flavourful.
Nowadays it is commonplace to source beans from around the world with satisfying taste profiles. But most cannot get the Jamaica Blue Mountain balance of chocolate, spice and fruit. Usually commodity coffees are nutty. Or spicy. Or fruity. It is very rare that they get contrasting tones in one like a quality JBM.
Los Angeles based Waka Coffee spotted a trend that youngsters just want coffee as fast as their wi-fi. Most coffee companies are either focusing on sourcing bean that cater to the luxury or the thrift. Few new brands aim to satisfy the instant market, after all didn’t Starbucks educate the world on Italian style brewed coffee.
Waka however is a leading newcomers in the instant coffee category. This month, they are announcing the addition of Indian instant coffee to its offerings. The new Indian instant coffee comes in a single-serve and a 3.5 oz bag.
“The new product is a light roast, low acidity coffee, with a pleasant, dry finish and notes of chocolate and hazelnut,” said Waka.
Unlike traditional instant coffee brands, Waka’s instant coffees are made from 100% Arabica beans, which are commonly used in coffee shops, to provide the best taste, at least they say.
David Kovalevski, the Founder & CEO of Waka Coffee, came up with the idea for the instant coffee company while living in New York City, juggling a hectic schedule as a full-time undergraduate student with a full-time job. David relied on coffee to fuel his daily routine. However, he quickly discovered that frequenting coffee shops and making coffee in a cramped NYC kitchen was complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. “I grew up in Israel, where instant coffee is much more common, and hoped to find a good instant coffee brand that would accommodate my needs. I wanted a simpler, easy-to-make coffee solution that was delicious no matter where I made it,” says David.
Founded in 2018, Waka Coffee is a direct to consumer coffee brand on a mission to bring the instant back.
Coffee prices referenced on the commodities market are trading near two year highs.
Prices are up 50 per cent since lows of 2019 on news of an expected drop in production going forward, while at the same time met with increased demand from developed nations for coffee.
“World exports are expected down 4.7 million bags to 115.4 million primarily due to lower shipments from Brazil and Honduras,” stated the Coffee: World Markets and Tradereport published this month by the US Department of Agriculture. “With global consumption forecast at a record 166.4 million bags, ending inventories are expected to slip 400,000 bags to 35.0 million.
The report stated that coffee production for 2019/20 is forecast 5.3 million bags (60 kilogrammes) lower than the previous year to 169.3 million, primarily due to Brazil’s Arabica trees entering the off-year of the biennial production cycle.
Arabica coffee futures are now at US$1.31 from just shy of the US$1.38 52 week high but far from the low of US$0.86. It follows on a series of measures which affected demand and supply.
It matters, as the commodity futures give a guide to the directional flow of pricing of most coffees, even those that do not trade on the exchange like luxury Jamaica Blue Mountain. The entire crop of JBM can fit into less than a day’s production in Colombia, so the island’s crop does not affect demand or supply. Buyers in Japan however which accounts for some 70 per cent of total sales of JBM beans will be less likely to pay a premium for JBM if coffee demand overall is down.
“The Japanese are buying again but the prices are not that great,” said a Spokesman for a large farming brand in the Jamaica Blue Mountains.
The data for this year’s total exports of Jamaica Blue Mountain are not yet disclosed.
China continues to grow its consumption with the growth of Luckin Coffee formed in 2017 and listed this year. It continues to add several stores a day now at some 4,280 up over 200 per cent year on year, at the time of this report. It is now the largest chain in China surpassing Starbucks which operates some 4,100 sores in China.
Brewing with a coffee-press, known also as a french press or coffee pot, will offer an earthy brew in contrast to a pour over or percolator. The press will keep the oils and the full body flavor in every cup. The pour-over, led by minimalist styling of a Chemex, on the other hand, will enhance the brightness and fruitiness of the brew as it filters out much of the full body.
For many, the preferred method of brewing depends on the flavours one wants to enchance. Coffee geeks wants drinkers to consider the ratio of coffee to water. Research advises drinkers that the ideal is a 1-to-14 or 1-to-15 mix. They speak about the type of water, the type of kettle, the weight of the coffee, the time to allow the coffee to seep. Everything except the coffee.
For many however coffee isn’t math but rather art. And while quality products are nice amenities, it is quality coffee that’s the most important. There are many ways to know quality coffee, an easy method involves avoiding bottom-shelf supermarket beans in favour of premium single estate coffee.
Regardless, at the crack of dawn, qualitycoffeeremains the most important ingredient even above the brewing method.
The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee festival 2019 takes place in the hills of the world renowned Blue Mountain this weekend. Everyone will congregate on historic grounds in Newcastle but what brands will come out in full force.
Expect all the large ones including Jablum, Wallenford, Coffee Traders, Country Traders, Jamaica Standard Products, and so on.
In terms of cafe popups expect Cannonball, Cafe Blue, Jablum & Wallenford, Coffee Roasters, Island Blue and of course Starbucks and more.
People should be most excited about the surprises: The smaller brands coming out in force to increase marketability and exposure such as Plantation Blue and Bawk coffee. But we shall see this weekend at the coffee festival.
The festival under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism aims to get locals and foreigners to experience three days of Jamaican food, coffee and culture along the Blue Mountain Culinary Trail. There will also be indigenous arts and crafts showcases, live Reggae music performances and tours to some of Jamaica’s best kept secrets.
Can’t be there but want to experience quality coffee. There’s always next year.
An accident in the boiler room at instant coffee processor Salada Foods Limited led to a $23 million net loss for the December quarter 2018 and the halt of production.
The good thing is that enough branded Mountain Peak instant coffee was in the trade and still available for purchase.
The decline arose last October from an accident in the broiler room wherein both boilers were damaged and had to be taken offline. The main boiler only came back online at the end of November arising from repair delays, said Salada which manufactures instant coffee and ground coffee beans at its registered office on 20 Bell Road in Kingston.
“While it was down there was no production of coffee however there was sufficient finished goods inventory at Lasco and Salada’s overseas distributors to satisfy market needs,”said Salada in its interim report. Since February 2017, the company outsourced its distribution to Lasco Distributors.
Full production resumed last December, and it is now normalizing inventory levels with its distribution partners and expects by the end of the second quarter to get back on track with its financial results. Revenues amounted to $172 million for three months to December 2018 from $228 million in the corresponding period in 2017.
For the year ended September 30, 2018, the company led by General Manager Dianna Blake-Bennett grew its annual sales to $1 billion an increase of 19 per cent, up from $872,000 in the comparative year.
Improved exports and domestic sales were the keys to unlock much of the sales gains. Profits were buoyed by a strong sales performance, with Salada growing its domestic sales by 16.7 per cent, and improving its export sales in Canada and Barbados by 440 per cent and 220 per cent respectively.
OK, you know you are large when websites are putting your work on coffee mugs. This ‘laugh now chimp’ was stenciled in various parts of the UK but now has made its way to a coffee mug hahah.
The Banksy Laugh Now Chimp coffee mug shows a dejected chimpanzee wearing a billboard around its neck with the slogan “Laugh now, but one day we’ll be in charge”. Maybe people buying the mug will see it miraculously shatter before their eyes.
I wonder if Banksy likes Jamaica Blue Mountain in his cup.