Starbucks Guatemalan Antiguan versus Jamaica Blue Mountain

guat_antigua_wb_fy14_us

I’ve oft heard that Antigua Guatemala best compares to beans from Jamaica. So I bought a bag at Starbucks and compared.

Bean inspection: Mid-sized and fairly consistent. Not surprisingly, Starbucks over-roasted the beans. Its more medium-dark than medium as described. This meant that the lemons and fruitiness would likely have given way to a stronger chocolate taste profile.

Method: Coffee press

Taste profile: Spicy on top, deep spike of chocolate in middle, and smooth on back end.

Tips: Lovely and chocolately with heavier body brewing methods such as coffee press over paper filters.

Comparison to JBM: More spicy but less balance. JBM chocolate tends to emerge more gradually and often times balanced with vanilla tones.

JBM costs four times as much per pound compared to Antiguan. So it is a great coffee for the price. Of course JBM remains quality that’s rarely matched.
Personally I would mix JBM and Antiguan together to get a quality affordable cup.

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.