Is Jamaica coffee worth the price

 

People are drawn to the balanced cup that real Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee (JBM) offers. It’s chocolatey brewing with natural spice and fruit tones without bitterness.

Jamaica coffee can be divided into two categories Blue and High Mountain. Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee comes only from the East of the island and usually costs US$50 per pound (450g) for roasted beans. High Mountain mostly from the west of the island usually sells for ÙS$25 per pound for roasted beans.

Blue Mountain is luxury beans the equivalent of a Louis Vuitton bag for coffee. The classic profile is layered moving from chocolate to spice to fruit tones without bitterness. High Mountain is functional and would represent a beauiful leather backpack without a brand name. The profile moves from deep chocolate to lighter chocolate and spice with slight bitterness.

 

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Some critics say that over the last 20 years with the rise of Starbucks and specialty coffee, other regions have improved quality and now offer cups with similar quality to Jamaica Blue Mountain. Jamaica finds its natural competitors that speciality coffee in Latin America and the Pacific. So is Kona coffee better than Jamaica coffee. Or is Guatemalan coffee better than Jamaica coffee. What about Colombian coffee. These beans usually cost half that of Jamaica Blue Mountain quality beans. That said, the profile tends to be a cross between Jamaica Blue and Jamaica High Mountain beans.  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.

So is Jamaica coffee worth the money? Well it depends. Yes if you can guarantee that the beans are 100% from Jamaica rather than blends. Blended coffee is basically 10 to 30 per cent Jamaica Blue Mountain with 70 to 90 per cent beans from other origins usually Colombia. Blends costs half the cost of JBM or about US$25 per pound but really drinkers are getting foreign coffee.

 

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Buying 100% JBM from reputable brands is essential. The best brands of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee include:

1.Twymans

2.Amber Estate

3. Coffee Roasters Jamaica

4. Marley Coffee

5. Coffee Traders

6. Wallenford

6. Greenwich.

7. Jablum Gold

8. Island Blue

9. Stoneleigh

10. Plantation Blue

There are others and the list can adjust based on crop and batch quality. Here’s a list of the taste profiles of most of these brands along with fulfilment.

Coffee lovers might wonder why Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is twice as expensive as High Mountain coffee.

Well Blue Mountain is in heavy demand in places like Japan where roughly 75 per cent of the total crop gets exported annually.  Additionally, the Blue Mountain growing region is entirely on steep slopes. That limits cultivation in an is already limited zone. Its 8 hours of daily mist and fog creates a natural green-house effect which slow ripens the beans. Comparatively High Mountain is grown on flat lands or lowlands which enables better economies of scale. But also the coffee isn’t in heavy demand in Japan like the JBM.

Click pic below to buy!

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Starbucks Guatemalan Antiguan versus Jamaica Blue Mountain

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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.

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–“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.