There is no doubt that the pandemic will result in the countless loss of life, reduced exports and reduce purchasing power. So that could mean a two-thirds dip in global export earnings of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and Jamaica High Mountain coffee . Even before the pandemic sales were sluggish with weak demand, despite the product tasting better than ever. The real question after the sector hits bottom in 2021/22 will be, how to double the rate of recovery.
For sustained buyers of Jamaica coffee, we salute you. It is now a buyer’s market and you can set the price. Expect discounts and the sort. If before the pandemic, you were hesitant to try top tier brands from Jamaica, now is the time. That’s because those prices are tumbling while the quality remains uber luxury.
Some dealers want the Jamaica Coffee Festival 2021 changed from March to January to align with the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day.
“The coffee dealers want January and that makes sense for us,”said a source who wouldn’t give their name due to the sensitive stage of negotiations. “Coffee dealers are considering pulling out and doing our own thing next January.
It sounds like a no brainer to align a local festival with a Day that’s promoted in Japan and Jamaica for coffee. The coffee festival is however produced by an arm of the Ministry of Tourism and their mandate is to drive visitors to the island during slow periods like March.
The Coffee Festival produced by the Ministry in its third consecutive year but there were previous intermittent staging in the past.
Since the 1960s, Japan was the main buyer and marketer of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. The January date signifies the first real shipment to the Asian country. The inaugural Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) Coffee Day was celebrated in 2019.
There is also International Coffee Day held in October. That occasion is used to promote and celebrate coffee as a beverage, with events occurring globally. The first official date was 1 October 2015, as agreed by the International Coffee Organisation and was launched in Milan.
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.
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.
Deaf Can! the not for profit coffee enterprise that trains deaf students in the art of coffee got the most exposure at the Jamaica Coffee Festival even above global brands Starbucks.Why– for a few reasons.First, patrons were not seeking out Seattle roasted coffee (or re-imported Jamaica coffee). So Starbucks prominent stall was largely empty. Largely ignored.Second, Deaf Can! assisted three companies which led the company to have three cobranded booths at a coffee festival. That resulted in them having arguably the largest floor space. Third , they offered a zany cold brew coffee made from peaberries. It represented one of the most innovative core coffee drinks on display.DeafCan is currently seeking to raise about $7.5 million from the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange to properly finance their coffee farm in Mandeville. Why not check out their business model here .Over 15 Jamaica coffee brands are represnted at the festival. Notable absent brands are Jablum and Wallenford. There was a cobranded Cannonball and Jablum stall but no marketing beyond a small Jablum banner.Love Jamaica Coffee but can’t be at the festival consider these coffees .
Good news, finally coffee prices are starting to fall. Consumers of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee will see a 10% reduction in the price going forward. Of course there is one proviso: That weather conditions will remain. Specifically the absence of hurricanes, and there’s one looming in the Caribbean Basin as I text. It seems hard to believe that right now it’s a buyer’s market when just a year-and-a-half ago farmers could get as high as J$13,000 a box of coffee. Now farmers are being offered $6,000 a box. Naturally most farmers do not want to sell but they’re caught in a dilemma because if they don’t sell now the ripe red coffee cherries will rot and die. There’s only one processor that is buying now and that’s Mavis Bank coffee. As a result Farmers have been protesting. They do not want to sell their beans for half its worth.
Buy now before end of September, and get a 10% discount as Paypal partial refund.
Jamaica Blue made its debut in the United Kingdom opening its first cafe, on 8th December. The chain of 170 cafes within Europe, quickly grew that number to three in the UK with its third in Chelmsford is in the Bond Street complex.
Based on packaging the chain sells single source from Wallenford, blends from Jamaica, and coffees from other parts of the world.
If you are in the UK check them out. The cafe boasts vertical grass walls and lighting made from recycled Jamaica Blue Mountain barrels. Very cool, trendy and what you’d expect from cafes trying to enter a mature market.
Their Wallenford coffee would offer the signature balance of chocolate, vanilla and spice. It’s a profile known globally and respected among coffee nerds as the world’s finest. If you are however not visiting the UK anytime soon. Consider Wallenford as your next coffee.
The motto of the Jamaica Blue brand is the Jamaican proverb, ‘Wan wan coco ful baskit’. The company bends its meaning focusing on slowing down to fulfill goals. More correctly it represents fulfilling goals one deed at a time. However the simple philosophy of the chain includes serving great coffee, food and service.
“From our humble beginnings twenty-odd years ago, we now have a growing international network of over 170 stores operating in 7 countries,” stated the company on its website.
Industry players are again contemplating sending green or unroasted beans to China in an effort to offset reduced demand in Japan, the largest buying market for Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) coffee.
The source indicates that its a real possibility despite concerns about the Chinese market and the potential for unauthorised blending of beans.
“We have to try something,” added the source.
In 2011, the Coffee Industry of Jamaica (CIB) sent its first shipment of green beans to China. The CIB sent representatives to live in the country in order to streamline the supply chain. The deal signed with Zhejiang Dunn’s River Import and Export Company Limited, would handle the commercial transactions of the Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods. The deal was met with ambivalence from some Japanese buyers who questioned the price at which the beans were sold to China. The deal with the major importer wasn’t continued after the initial two year attempt. But with the softening of the Japanese market the search for new markets are inevitable.As the industry can no longer avoid the world’s second largest economy.
Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee prices hit a high of roughly US$60 per pound this year for roasted beans amid increased demand and reduced supply.
Consumers however will find solace in knowing that producers are expecting prices to fall by as much as 25 per cent in the next two years. It will mean that the cheapest Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) in years whether from Jablum, Wallenford, Amber or any other brand.
The price fall is the result of an expected increased supply of beans on the market as farms return to full or near to full capacity. The increased supply will result in an overabundance on the market which will, at least in economic terms, reduce the price.
In anticipation of this price drop, brands including Jablum introduced a Premium Blend of coffee that incorporates 30 per cent JBM and 70 per cent regional balanced beans. Thus price conscious enthusiasts can buy a pound for as little as US$32 plus shipping.
Over the last few years, a confluence of factors affected the supply of the beans led by drought, fires, infertile farms and disease.
Over the last two years, roasters in Japan wanted the bulk of beans from Jamaica and were willing to pay anything for the luxury cup.
During that period, the price at the farm level jumped fivefold from US$20 to $100 per box of coffee as small farmers gained influence in price setting.