It’s often said to enjoy the real Blue Mountain Coffee experience, you need to head over to its native Jamaica. In reality however, you really only need to pick up a batch of premium beans anywhere you can find them to discover the difference in an instant. But wherever you tend to find Blue Mountain Coffee in the world, you’ll always find two accompanying questions:
As for the answers…well, there are actually a few reasons that combine to create the exclusivity and unique enjoyment experience of Blue Mountain Coffee, which goes above and beyond just about any other type of coffee you can lay your hands on. It might seem like a heavy price to pay when picking it up in the first place, but as any connoisseur will tell you, Blue Mountain Coffee really is worth its weight in gold.
…and here’s why:
First of all, when compared to the amount of coffee that comes out of the world’s other major producers, Jamaica’s output is comparatively low. They tend to produce somewhere in the region of 5 million lbs of coffee every year, which is dwarfed by the Dominican Republic where the figure reaches a whopping 118 million lbs annually. So there’s an immediate element of exclusivity about it – especially when considering the fact that Blue Mountain Coffee Beans aren’t the only type of coffee beans grown in Jamaica. Instead, Blue Mountain Coffee is exclusive to an extremely small mountainous region and can only be grown at least 3,000 feet above sea level.
Put simply, genuine Blue Mountain coffee is scarce. And, to make life tougher for those of us trying to find the coffee, 80% of the crop goes to Japan each year.
Blue Mountain Coffee tastes like no other coffee in the world because it isn’t like any other coffee in the world. As already mentioned, it takes very specific, very precise growing conditions to produce Blue Mountain Coffee, which are unique to this part of the world.
Unusual volcanic soil, cool conditions and the comparatively long ten-month period from bloom to harvest. It’s fundamentally impossible to synthetically replicate the kinds of growing conditions where Blue Mountain Coffee thrives, meaning that while some may try to imitate its properties, there’s nothing quite like the real deal. Once again, this results in an extremely small amount of the stuff making its way out of Jamaica every year. Of which somewhere in the region of 80% goes straight to Japan – hence the high prices for the remaining 20% globally.
Given the uniquely challenging nature of the terrain, the only approach to picking the coffee cherries themselves is one that involves meticulous attention and care. While most coffee is grown on rolling hills or flat land, Blue Mountain Coffee is grown on steep slopes that can be nothing short of treacherous.
It takes serious skill and experience to not only harvest the most outstanding Blue Mountain Coffee beans produced, but also not to do yourself a serious injury in the process! This is where the quality control process begins and also contributes to the unrivaled quality and exclusivity of Blue Mountain Coffee.
But it certainly isn’t where quality control comes to an end. Instead, each and every bean up from being picked is graded by way of its size and checked for possible defects. If the beans are considered too small or too large, they are not permitted to be used for export purposes and are instead kept for domestic use. This immediately reduces the available quantities by an average of 15% to 20%. The sorting process is then carried out by hand, in order to allow skilled and experienced experts to manually go through each bean and check for defects. This is a process that typically happens elsewhere by way of machine. It’s an extremely hands-on process, which continues right through to the tasting and evaluation carried out by the Industry Coffee Board – mandatory for any producer that wishes to export its products overseas. This involves the completion of a detailed evaluation form and ‘blind’ tasting of the coffee products, in order to ensure that they are of suitable quality to be exported globally.
So when you take all of the above into account, the fact that Blue Mountain Coffee is so exceptional in quality and relatively high in price isn’t what you’d call surprising. In fact, considering the time and effort that has been invested in the production and export of every single bean, the kinds of prices being charged for Blue Mountain Coffee are tantamount to practically giving it away!
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