Rising 7,402 feet above the sea, Blue Mountain Peak is the highest spot in Jamaica, and the fifth highest mountain in the Caribbean. The mists and lush vegetation give the peak and the surrounding Blue Mountains, a greenish blue hue. These mountains rise-up above Kingston and dominate the eastern part of Jamaica.
It is in these mountains, within an area legally proscribed by the Jamaican government, that the world’s best, and best known, single origin coffee grows - Jamaica Mountain Blue Reserve Coffee.
Jamaica has some of the richest and most productive soil in the Caribbean, but not in the Blue Mountains. The soil there is derived from both metamorphic and igneous rocks and is quite porous and prone to leaching. It is low in many nutrients, especially phosphorus and nitrogen. The reduced sunlight due to the cloud cover slows down the development of the coffee cherry. The long maturation has a very positive effect on the aroma and taste of the coffee produced from these trees. The coffee trees grow slowly and the production is lower than in other coffee producing areas of Jamaica and the world. All these factors combine to create a very rich, smooth, cup of coffee that is exceptionally well-balanced and is generally low in acidity. Jamaica Blue Mountain is silky smooth and well-balanced, with an excellent full body, a classic and refined mild coffee that is very rich. The taste is complex, and often with hints of chocolate.
Exactly what factors in the soil contribute to the exceptional taste of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee are not known exactly, but perhaps a certain amount of stress contributes to better coffee.
In the world of coffee, few coffee drinkers have ever tasted an Estate Coffee or Single Origin Coffee. The vast majority of coffee consumed is blended from commodity grade coffee. A lucky few have tried 100 percent Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee or 100 percent Hawaiian Kona Coffee and know that the coffee’s origin certainly makes a significant difference. So, what makes Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee so great? There are many factors to consider, but it is important to be sure you are getting an authentic, unblended, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is exported by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. They ensure what is called Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee actually comes from the legally designated growing area. The Board's professionals also inspect each barrel for quality, checking the bean size and color. Experienced professional tasters roast small samples and “cup” the coffee to ensure it was properly processed and has the aroma and taste that define Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
Take a short tour of the Jamaica Blue Mountains
But it is the unique location and microclimate that makes the coffee so great. The area where Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is grown is high in the mountains. The mountains are 85% forest, which provides shade in which to grow the coffee. The altitude, forest cover and climate provide the conditions for growing the best coffee in the world. The higher altitudes produce a denser bean, which translates into a richer cup of coffee.
All Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is grown from the Arabica species of coffee. Almost all is from the Arabica Typica subspecies of coffee. Many of these trees are descendants from the original trees Governor Lawes imported from Martinique, where coffee was first introduced into the Caribbean. There are some new varietals that planters are starting to experiment with, but Arabica Typica is far and away the most planted coffee tree.
Elevation is critical. To be certified Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee it must be cultivated at an elevation between 1,800 and 5,500 feet. It is well established that altitude makes a significant difference in the quality of coffee. Although the Blue Mountains rise to 7,402 feet, no coffee is above 5,500 feet because that area is maintained as a Forest Reserve.
The climate in the Jamaica Blue Mountains is cooler than the rest of Jamaica. The Jamaica Blue Mountains are located on the Eastern end of Jamaica, exposing them to the moisture laden North East Trade Winds. These hit the coast and rise up into the mountains, generating significant cloud cover and mist as they hit the cooler air of the higher elevations.
The unique Blue Mountain growing region features an ideal coffee-growing terrain and temperate climate – misty and cool with lots of rain, rich soil, and great soil drainage. This area contains some of the Caribbean’s highest -growing regions.
Jamaica has some of the richest and most productive soil in the Caribbean, but not in the Blue Mountains. The soil there is derived from both metamorphic and igneous rocks and is quite porous and prone to leaching. It is low in many nutrients, especially phosphorus and nitrogen. The coffee trees grow slowly and the production is lower than in other coffee producing areas of Jamaica and the world. All these factors combine to create a very rich, smooth, cup of coffee that The of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is said to sparkle in its boldness and offers up delightful floral tones along with sweet nutty and herbal notes. Jamaica The Jamaica Blue Mountain Peaberry Coffee beans are traditionally used for – a peaberry is when one whole bean forms into a , or fruit, rather than the usual two half-beans. These larger, denser beans make for a longer roasting period, which helps to control the development of the espresso roast profile. A or is recommended for Jamaica Blue Mountain, as it will free the beans’ and fragrances without losing their best qualities.
Japan has been known to corner the market on Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, making one of the world’s most enjoyable gourmet also one of the most expensive.