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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Is Jablum Gold worth the money

Generally, I am unimpressed by Jablum. It sometimes tastes like hot water but costs three times that of Dunkin Donuts. Truth, the hot water tends to occur in Jablum ground coffees. So my advise to persons wondering about quality. Just avoid the ground coffess. But what about Jablum Gold whole beans. Is it worth the cash? 

Cupping coffee is what we do. We do these reviews to keep the companies honest and to let caffeineocrats  know what to avoid and when to avoid it. We don’t need sterile labs. We prefer cupping where it counts, at home in the hills of the Jamaica Blue Mountains.

Follow the process of popping open a box of Jablum Gold and cupping via a chemex pour-over.

History: Jablum Gold entered the market about 8 years ago as the curated version of its Jablum classic beans. In other words Jablum Gold sought to address concerns that Jablum was inconsistent with its taste. That the beans tasted like hot water. Like hot almonds. Anything but luxury coffee. So Jablum Gold entered the market with fatter better beans with more flavour. It always amazes me that the company maintained this elaborate packaging to this day.

Packaging: The steps to unbox the coffee is reminiscent of the theatre involved in unboxing a watch. Pop the top apart and it reveals two sleeves: One arms to the left and the other to the right. It reveals a blue burlap bag which further reveals a shiny blue sealed bag.

Aroma: Open with a pair of scissors shows fat swollen beans which smell of brown sugar. There are other spices but brown sugar dominates in a good way.

Preparation: Grind in between fine and medium.

Brewing method: Chemex, in an attempt to enhance crispiness and fruit essences. It’s based on previous knowledge that Jablum coffees generally enhances light chocolate tones and almond tones without much or any fruit.  Comparatively utilising a french press would enhance the chocolate tones and mute any hints of fruit.

Taste: Black currant which quickly transitions to deep chocolate and transitions to cream soda with low to medium acidity, and then leaves the palette with a smooth finish.

Conclusion: 8.5/10 with Starbucks daily blend 6/10. So consider Jablum Gold for that affordable luxury.

 

New players in Jamaica coffee offering cheaper deals in 2019

So more good news for buyers. When the mist of microclimate clears, new players are seen offering deals for their brands. They hype their beans as the best from the Jamaica Blue Mountain. Yeah so does everyone, yet some coffees taste ordinary and others amazing.

New players in the retail scene include Bawk Coffee, Plantation Blue and one can even say Stoneleigh.

These players all were involved in various aspects of the established trade and broke away to form their own brand. The more players means more competition in the sector which prides itself on a grandfather-taste which predates Starbucks and of course thirdwave.

This taste is distinct and offers amazing coffee without the bells of whistles of modern coffees. JBM (Jamaica Blue Mountain) is just layered-complexity without the hype.

So of course competition led to price cuts of between 10 to 20 per cent on shelves and on selling platforms like ebay and so on. In fact Stoneleigh actually slashed their retail rates by about 30 per cent just to move volumes. Let’s see what happens on reorders.

The context however is that coffee prices in Jamaica have started to fall back in 2016/17 based on global supply and demand factors. But now come 2019 its competition that’s driving the dip at the roasted bean level. What does this mean for consumers… more choice at cheaper prices.

But of course, we all know you can’t just buy JBM blindly.  That’s why its important to know your source. We find that all the new brands offer quality but we’d recommend getting someone whether at the brand or a broker to cup it first prior to shipment.

Cheers to great coffee!

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Japan needs lower Jamaica coffee prices

Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) coffee dealers are now in Japan (late September) seeking to secure new contracts. Japan is a mature market that buys 85 per cent of the total JBM crop. So any new contract secured would likely mean that another player lost marketshare.

Japan loves JBM but its not exactly selling like rice cakes. So reports are that the inventory of JBM is growing.

As a result Japan buyers wants a lower price for the JBM. And they are likely to get it, as supply now outpaces demand. In other words there’s a lot of beans going around.

Whatever happens in Japan affects the world. So that means that you–the reader on Jamaicamocha will reap cheaper prices on luxury roasted beans. Want even lower prices contact us and we will make it happen.

 

Steven Beans

info@jamaicamocha.com

 

 

Starbucks in Jamaica will target travelers

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Starbucks would drop two cafes in Jamaica which will target tourists primarily at least initially, according to Coffee dealers who spoke to Jamaicamocha .

The talk is that the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay
could see a location followed quickly by another, at a new business
hotel under construction in Kingston. (Let’s avoid names for the moment.)

Of course, last month the Gleaner reported that Starbucks is considering entering the island along with other Caribbean territories in the medium term.

It just so happens that the busy Montego Bay airport which currently
doesn’t have any store slots available will see 25 per cent of the
stores come up for contract renewal this year, according to media reports.

Sources say that’s where the Starbucks franchisee will snatch up a vacancy and outbid an
existing operator. But it might not even have to come to a bidding
war, as the franchisee already supplies the airport with food
and beverage. (I have already said too much.)
Who are the two private sector players seeking to acquire the
Starbucks franchise in Jamaica–They are both in hospitality sector, the
media says.

Will Starbucks increase the coffee culture? Will Starbucks improve a
cup of local coffee? Or would it simply increase the price? Let’s see. Not all cafe players are upbeat about the prospects especially those who earn from the tourist market.

 

 

Starbucks Jamaica to follow Colombia’s lead

Starbucks plans to consider opening a coffee store in Jamaica.
When Jamaicamocha spoke to Jamaica Blue Mountain farmers on the implications most had a mixed bag of views.
Some say it will benefit the local industry provided the local authorities force Starbucks to follow the lead of Colombia.

Others say it will hurt the local cafe sector, still burgeoning and still educating the public on how to drink brewed coffee. Remember that this luxury coffee producing nation generally drinks tea and imported instant coffees.

Those who want Starbucks to buy local also acknowledge another problem: How can Starbucks sell coffee at a similar price-point as in major markets while using expensive Jamaican coffee?

A solution involves using cheaper Jamaica low mountain beans but also allowing the giant to import commodity beans for blending as Jamaica Blue Mountian blends.

Even this solution would likely result in farmer protests and calls by other cafe players of favoritism.

Let’s see what brews.

Starbucks opened its first store in Colombia in 2014 and now has 11 stores. Medellin its latest, opened last September. But the chain wants to open 50 in that coffee producing country.

Starbucks now has over 1,000 stores in Latin America since entering Mexico in 2002. The new store, located in Medellín’s Milla de Oro on Poblado Avenue, is designed to honor Colombia’s rich coffee heritage while celebrating the city’s eclectic vibe.

“Since opening its first store in Colombia, Starbucks stores in the country have served 100 percent locally sourced and roasted coffee for in-store beverages to honor the country’s coffee heritage and the company’s 45-year history of sourcing premium arabica coffee from the region,” confirmed Starbucks on its press pages. “Customers can explore different varieties of Colombian coffees including Starbucks single-origin Colombia Nariño, Colombia Espresso, Colombia Espresso Decaf and the medium-roast Colombia coffee.”

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’s newest UK cafe sells Wallenford beans

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.

Jamaica Coffee prices set to fall

IMG_20160805_115156.jpgJamaica 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.

 

Salada Coffee complains of JBM prices

A respected local coffee brand SALADA Foods Jamaica Limited complained of Jamaica coffee price increases.

The increases slashed its gross margins by more than one-quarter, the company stated. It’s the latest processor to complain about the over 30 per cent price hike in one year, and 250 per cent hike over two years, towards $11,000 per box of coffee cherry. However the price rise is due to a severe supply shortage based on drought, disease, farm decay and now fire. Concurrently, large overseas buyers are demanding more coffee from Jamaica. On the micro-level farmers are demanding more per box due to the impact of currency depreciation on farm costs, and also the cost to protect the coffee against disease and theft. Two years ago processors paid roughly $3,000 for a box of coffee cherry to farmers.

“Profits continue to be adversely affected by the increases in price of coffee beans realised in the first quarter and the performance of its subsidiaries Mountain Peak Food Processors Ltd and Pimora Company Ltd,” stated Salada in a notice prefacing the financials signed jointly by Chairman Patrick Williams and Director Aubyn Hill. “The gross margin for the six months was 27.5 per cent, a reduction of 27 per cent when compared with the same period in the prior year. This resulted from the higher cost of coffee bean now being processed.”

Salada made $37-million profit before tax in the March quarter 2015 on $220 million in revenues, or 184 per cent higher profit year-on-year.

Just this week, large coffee processor Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Ltd makers of Jablum indicated that fire damaged at least $200 million worth of farms thus far. Last week US-based Marley Coffee cautioned its investors that the supply shortage of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee could affect its sales going forward.

In recent times, Salada has faced increased local coffee competition in both the instant and brewed markets. Salada in its previous quarter hinted that it would seek to launch new coffee products this year. However, its latest March financials failed to add information on product development.

Last year, large coffee company Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Ltd launched True Brew, an instant coffee. It also launched Jablum Caribbean Blend, a mixture of beans from Jamaica and the Caribbean. In 2012, it also launched a high-end product called Jablum Gold.

Jamaica Coffee factory starts 4 day work week

Jamaica Coffee shortage continues with a major producer resorting to  4 day work week, jamaicamocha understands.
“Due to severe shortage of coffee,” the notice started, workers will have the choice of a day off.
Annual coffee exports once US$30 million prior to the Western financial crisis nearly 7 years earlier are now half that level.