Cost of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

The island of Jamaican is known for many things, sandy beaches, reggae music, Bob Marley and coffee. The high regard for Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee among avid coffee drinkers has driven its price up to between $26 and $40 a pound. What is it about this particular brew that warrants such a high price tag?

True to its name, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is grown in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica, generally located between Kingston to the south and Port Maria to the north. Rising to 7,500 feet, the Blue Mountains are the highest point in the Caribbean. The area is characterized by cool, wet weather and dark, rich soil with good drainage, ideal conditions for cultivating coffee. Though coffee is not native to Jamaica, it is the chief export of the island.

The quality of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is so fiercely regulated that the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica even restricts the geographic area that can produce it to the parishes of St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary. The Board has also trademarked the distinguished name all over the world so that not just any grind can try to pass as Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Screens of various dimensions are used to sort beans by size. The theory behind the screening process is that beans from higher altitudes are larger and produce better-tasting coffee than the smaller beans from lower altitudes. The Coffee Industry Regulation Act has instated three calibers of Jamaican Blue Mountain, based on the screen, or size, of the bean.

The strict regulations of the board prohibit some beans that might be acceptable in other brews. The screening process also helps to eliminate maragogipe (elephant beans). The green, oversized beans are a mutant strain thought to have originated in Brazil, are porous and absorb the characteristics of the soil in which they grow. Opinions about their worth vary widely among experts, but they are considered unfit for Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Specifications for Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee are very rigid. At least 96 percent of the beans must be of a uniform screen and a consistent, bluish-green color. A maximum two percent of beans may deviate slightly from this standard, but black or sour beans and any kind of foreign matter are unacceptable and do not fall under the two-percent rule.

The geographical area that grows Jamaican Blue Mountain beans is relatively small and can only produce so much coffee. The limited quantity, the matchless quality resulting from painstaking cultivation, the alluring aroma and the renowned name of Jamaican Blue Mountain have undoubtedly contributed to its reputation as one of the most sought-after coffees in the world. As long as hard-core coffee drinkers continue to demand it, it will also be one of the most expensive.

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About The Author, Cory Willins
Cory Willins is regular author for The Coffee Site, where you can find information on gourmet types of coffee, one cup coffee makers and more.