What is blue mountain coffee?
Blue mountain coffee is widely known as the ‘champagne of coffees’, due to its rarity and cost. As a result, it’s something of a legend that is only spoken of in the most luxurious settings, or amongst the most avid coffee aficionados. Surely this reputation comes from somewhere though?
In this blog we’ll be taking a deep dive into blue mountain coffee – how it’s grown, its origins, and what makes it so sought after.
Origins of blue mountain coffee
In many ways, blue mountain coffee can be considered responsible for the creation of the Jamaican coffee industry as we know it today. It’s stated that in 1723 King Louis XV sent three arabica plants to the colony of Martinique. Five years later the governor of Martinique gifted one of the plants to the governor of Jamaica. It was then nurtured, leading to the creation of the first blue mountain plantation.
Production would continue to expand and between 1800-1840, Jamaica became the largest coffee producer in the world. Nowadays, blue mountain coffee is primarily cultivated from arabica typica, but there can be other variations. Regardless of the bean, the coffee gets its name from where it’s grown.
Jamaican blue mountain coffee is grownat altitudes anywhere between 900 and 1800 meters. Traditionally, this would also be limited to the Portland, St Andrew, St Thomas, and St Mary parishes on the east side of the island.While theestates here are relatively small (around 4 hectares), some other production sites in the regionare up to 70 hectares.
These mountains provide the ideal conditions for coffee growing, as the volcanic soil sports high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. The island’s tropical climate also aids in the growing of the coffee.Jamaica has regular rainfall and frequent cloud cover to protect crops from direct sunlight.
What makes blue mountain coffee special?
Jamaican blue mountain coffee is special for a number of reasons. These relate to the area it comes from, how it’s grown, produced, and sold. All of this combines to create a unique coffee experience that can’t be matched by ordinary blends, or most other single-origin beans.
Due to its growing conditions, blue mountain coffee has a characteristically smooth mouthfeel. The drink features chocolate flavours and herbal notes, with a bright acidity to balance out the cup. The result is an extremely drinkable coffee that has a rich taste and a distinct aroma.
The primary reason for the high price of blue mountain coffee, aside from its quality, is due to its scarcity. Coffee exports from Jamaica are very small, especially when compared to large coffee economies like Colombia. As mentioned before, blue mountain coffee only comes from a specific area of Jamaica.
The scarcity is furthered by the unique growing and cultivation conditions used. Finally, Jamaican blue mountain is one of the only coffee varieties to still be packed in wooden barrels.
You will likely see blue mountain coffee from other parts of the world as well as Jamaica. For example, our Blue Mountain Blend contain beans from Kenya and the Caribbean. This simply indicates that the beans have been cultivated at an altitude that classes the coffee as ‘blue mountain’.Pure Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is the authentic kind we’ve been referring to.
Quality control standards
All blue mountain coffee produced in Jamaica must be processed by the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA). This body performs many inspections to check the quality of the coffee before it is exported. The growing and harvesting are also heavily controlled to ensure the coffee is being produced correctly every step of the way.
How to brew Jamaican coffee
With a coffee as developed and full-bodied as blue mountain, you can’t really go wrong when brewing. However, as any barista will know, the brewing method can influence the flavour profile of the coffee.
To lean into the richness of blue mountain, we recommend an immersion brewing method using a French press or Aeropress. There are many different purposes that high pressure extraction such as this can be used for.It results in bolder flavours and a heavier mouth feel.
To make the most of the coffee’s subtle tones, we recommend a pour-over brewing technique such as that of a Chemex. This lets the water naturally bring out the flavours within the ground beans, without any added elements other than heat.
Expert coffee roasters Newcastle
If you’re looking for a luxury coffee like blue mountain, you’ve come to the right. Pumphrey’s Coffee has a range of artisan teas and coffees that are perfect to be given as gifts, or for you to indulge on a cold Sunday morning.We stick to tradition by using open flame roasting. This helps use provide you with fresh, delicious tasting coffee all year round.
Contact us today.