Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
Considered by some to be the ultimate coffee. This is a crop of very limited yield grown in the small Blue Mountain range in Jamaica. There are very few farms in Jamaica that are "Certified" to become the Famous Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. All the farms, and the coffee produced are all inspected, by the Jamaican Coffee Board, before any coffee is labeled as Certified Blue Mountain. This is done at the end of the processing of the coffee at one of the few certified processing centers.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is highly prized in countries like Japan which buys almost 90% of the coffee crop each year. Established in the 1960's the Jamaican Coffee Board was formed to oversee the production of Jamaican Coffee and give each it's label as either being Blue Mountain or what is called High Mountain. The High Mountain coffee is still Jamaican Coffee, it is just not up to the rigorious standards to be considered Blue Mountain Coffee.
There are currently only a few Estates that are considered Certified Blue Mountain. They are the Wallenford Estate located on the North side of the Blue Mountains. There is the Barron Hall Estate is a farm of around 650 Acres of coffee production. There is also the Mavis Bank farms, which comprise a number of various farms all high in the mountians overlooking Kingston.
Kebble Munn is the man behind Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Prior to his becoming the Minster of Agriculture and the formation of the Jamaican Coffee Board, coffee production was not up to the standards it is today. His expertise in agriculture, marketing and coffee helped bring Jamaican coffee back up to the standards we see today. It is safe to say that Mr Munn is the man behind the Blue Mountian Coffee we all ennoy today.
Why is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is the most sought after coffee in the world? Looking at the history of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee it is quickly understood that the heritage of this unique coffee is as rich and bold as its flavor. The story goes, that in the early 1700's, King Louis XV of France had some coffee plants that made their way to his colony, Martinique. Along the way on its journey from France to the Caribbean island of Martinique two of the plants perished. The third plant was later given to the former Governor of Jamaica sir Nicholas Lawes as a gift by the Governor of Martinique. The supurb climatic conditions, natural potash and soil rich in nitrogen and phosphorus enabled the Jamaican coffee crop to expand quickly. Soon coffee was being cultivated from Temple Hall in St. Andrew to the Blue Mountains, to St. Elizabeth, Manchester and St. Ann. By the mid 1700's, coffee exportation began. By the early 1800s there were over 600 coffee plantations on the island.
Not without its share of adversities, the Jamaican Coffee Industry suffered through many hardships. Labor shortages in the early 20th put a massive strain on the cultivation and exportation of the product. The industry also saw total production cessation for two years following land fall of Hurricane Gilbert in the 1990's. Through all this, the industry continued to provide Jamaican Farmers with an excellent source of income.
In the early days of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee Canada was the largest importer of the product. Then in the mid 1940's a decline in quality led the Canadian government to cut off the importation. This was a devastating blow by any measure to the Jamaican farmers and the industry itself. This drastic decision was met with swift and drastic reaction on the part of the Jamaican government which one year later in response, established the CCCH or Central Coffee Clearing House, later to be replaced by the Jamiacan Coffee Board. The branch was setup as a quality control mechanism to grade, clean and inspect all coffee products bound for export. This move raised the standard for Jamaican Coffee. Later in the 1950's, the Jamaica Coffee Growers established their own system of governance - the CIB or Coffee Industry Board which would pick up where the CCCH left off. This group developed the standards by which Jamaican coffee is grown, harvested, processed and marketed.
Annual production of Jamaican Coffee now stands at approximately 6.6 million pounds. A large percentage is exported to Japan with the balance going to the local, US and UK markets.