JAMAICAN BLUE MOUNTAIN COFFEE
Often the subject comes up and I am asked “Why is your coffee so special?”, “What makes it different?”, and the ever popular “Why is it so expensive?”. Authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a distinct, sweet and mild cup that will answer all of the above and more.
First, there are Jamaica’s Blue Mountains which provide the elevation needed to produce a quality hard Arabica bean. Spanning over 6,000 feet above sea level, they are some of the tallest mountain peaks in the Caribbean and located in latitudes within the “Coffee Belt“. Second, the nitrogen rich soil produced from past volcanic activity add the nutrients needed to allow the coffee to develop it’s unique and distinct flavor. Lastly, the rain forest climate provides the perfect amount of shade so the coffee is allowed to mature slower as the sugars inside the bean develop over a longer period of time. So these are the foundational elements of what makes Jamaica Blue Mountain so distinct.
Being that Reggie’s Roast Coffee owns and operates two Coffee Farms in the Blue Mountains, we are fortunate to see more than the average roaster out there. Coffee farming is a very labor intense process done all by hand. The cherries are harvested by hand, only picking the red, ripe cherries and leaving the green cherries on the trees to mature until the next pass of picking. These are not level corn field types of farms, but rather very hilly and dangerous terrain as the coffee essentially grows wild among the natural shade of the rainforest.
The process is long and meticulous. Among the 5-6,000 Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Farmers, the boxes are filled and prepared for the processor and will be floated to separate the good from the bad cherries ( the bad or not fully ripe will float ) at one of several drop off locations in the mountains. These farmers are dependent on the co-ops to process the cherries, provide payment and educate the farmers so they may develop a sustainable way of farming to support their families. One of our alliances is Mavis Bank, one of Jamaica’s oldest and most reputable coffee processors on the island. Processing in the mountains in Kingston as opposed to processing at sea level where it is believed by some that the altitude can affect the coffee.
The berries are floated once again and pulped the same day they are picked. They are then fermented for 18 – 24 hours. This is an old-time Jamaican step in the processing of coffee, that connoisseurs believe help give jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee its distinctive characteristics. The coffee is then washed, spread out on concrete barbecues to dry in the sun, which takes a few days of constant turning so the moisture is released evenly. The green coffee is then put in sacks to rest for 3 months, before hulling, polishing, grading, hand sorting, roasting, and packaging. This step allows the sugars to further develop and build the taste profile that is Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
Pretty involved stuff Huh? We haven’t even gotten to the processor yet which is strictly regulated by the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board – The C.I.B. This is the entity that governs the Trademarked Name “Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee” and maintains the high standard of the coffee processed and sold as “Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee”. See to begin, there are elevations which can only produce legitimate J.B.M. as follows: Traditionally, only coffee grown at elevations between 3,000 and 5,500 feet (1,700 m) could be called Jamaican Blue Mountain. Coffee grown at elevations between 1,500 and 3,000 feet (910 m) is called Jamaican High Mountain, and coffee grown below 1,500-feet (460 m) elevation is called Jamaican Supreme or Jamaican Low Mountain. (All land in Jamaica above 5,500 feet (1,700 m) is a forest preserve, so no coffee is grown there.)
Once processed it is then graded as follows
- Blue Mountain No. 1 – 96% of beans must have a screen size of 17/20. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
- Blue Mountain No. 2 – 96% of beans must have a screen size of 16/17. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
- Blue Mountain No. 3 – 96% of beans must have a screen size of 15/16. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
- Blue Mountain Peaberry – 96% of beans must be peaberry. No more than 2% of the beans may have significant defects.
- Blue Mountain Triage – Contains bean sizes from all previous classifications. No more than 4% of the beans may have significant defects.
The beans unlike any other origin, are hand polished to remove the outer “silver skin” or Chaff as we roasters know it, so the beans roast and turn easily to give them a more even turn in the drum while roasting. Once sorted and polished, they are packaged in handmade Aspen Wood barrels for export. This provides an almost air tight container to preserve the beans while shipping. Still why is it so expensive? The price is due to the extra processes we use to ensure the quality is 100% pure, the cost of producing coffee by hand is far more than using machinery and the limited supply are factors as well. Upon being allocated our supply (part of the 15% that is left since Japan consumes 80-85% of all the J.B.M. produced) we have the coffee brought from Mavis bank to our shop in linden, NJ where we roast all of our Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee fresh to order.
Reggie’s Roast Coffee is one of two Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee farmers roasting their own Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee on U.S. soil. As you can see we eliminate the middleman so we are able to offer you the freshest coffee at the best price available. As it is well known Authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee sells for $40-$50 LB, we are able to offer you $34.99 per LB shipping cost included.
That is what makes Reggie’s Roast Jamaica Blue mountain Coffee so special!