Well-known coffees are characterized by the regions where they are grown. Climate and soil qualities can make subtle changes to the flavour of the resulting coffee.
The tropical island of Jamaica has ideal conditions for growing coffee. Much of the island is covered with mountainous regions, including the Blue Mountains which is the tallest range on the island. The Blue Mountains are a perfect blend of rich, hot climate, plenty of rainfall and high altitude.
At nearly 7,500 feet above sea level, this is one of the highest coffee regions in the world. The constant mist covering gives the mountains a bluish cast, which is where the name comes from. It’s not all rugged mountain peaks. Jamaica is also lined with amazing white beaches, too.
The Blue Mountains are also home to a 194,000 acre national park, created to preserve the national rain forests. This park is home to 800 species of plants and 200 species of birds, many of which are unique to the island. There are hiking trails all through the area.
Coffee is not native to Jamaica. Beans were brought to the island in 1728 by the governor at that time, Sir Nicholas Lawes. The arabica beans flourished and now coffee is a major export. Japan is the largest importer of Blue Mountain coffee (90%).
Blue Mountain coffee has a very clean taste, with a noticeable sweetness. The flavour is bold, smooth and rich. Because of the rather restricted geographical range where it is grown, Blue Mountain is available in limited quantities and can sometimes be difficult to find.
In order to maintain the high quality of this coffee, Jamaica has established the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board to oversee the production and processing. Most Blue Mountain coffee beans are grown by small farmers, rather than huge coffee estates seen in other regions.
I have not personally tried Blue Mountain coffee (yet), but I have many friends who just love it. If you have the chance to try some, you won’t regret it.