Why Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is So Special – 7 Facts

Last Updated on June 27, 2023 by Barry Gray

When I was a kid, my father would only ever drink Red Mountain coffee. However, he used to tell me how Red Mountain was a poor example compared to Blue Mountain. He would build up this fabled Blue Mountain to the point where I distinctly remember thinking about it as the Holy Grail of coffee. I later found out that he was perfectly correct in his assessment of Blue Mountain.

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is exceptional. It’s grown slowly, is not bitter, is relatively rare, and offers such a smooth taste that any individual will love it. But they go one additional step by selecting only the best coffee beans, meaning nothing is ever second best when it comes to this coffee.

That sounds like a lot of work and effort goes into developing Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I love that they take so much care over each part to ensure you never feel disappointed when tasting it.

Seriously, I wish every coffee company would take the same care.

I’ve tried some horrible coffee over the years, but I know that nobody that has experienced this coffee could say it left a bad taste in their mouth.

Yet, I said in the title that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is special, so let’s get on with the seven facts that led me to reach that conclusion.

You see, I’ve tried a lot of coffee, but I wanted to know what made this particular coffee stand out. This is what I found.

espresso in a cup

How Scarce is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee?

The first fact is connected to the scarcity because to qualify as Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, it means the plants must be grown in a specific area of Jamaica.

That in itself means it can only come from such a small area that they have some real limitations with how many plants they can grow.

To qualify, it must come from the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Andrew and Portland. Also, it must be grown at an elevation of between 2,000ft and 5,000ft.

Anything outside of this elevation or these areas means it’s not Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

But to give you some additional insight into how scarce it is, I found a reference to it representing only 0.1% of the total coffee produced globally in a year.

That is almost zilch, so you can start to see why it’s tough to get your hands on some and why it’s so expensive. I know I need to go to more specialized sellers in the hope of getting even a small bag.

What Climate Is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Grown In?

I’ve already mentioned the elevation and area where the plants must be grown for it to then qualify as Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

However, there’s more to it than that.

The coffee plants themselves are grown in what is effectively a micro-climate, and I find this to be pretty cool. Also, if you check out the terrain, it’s pretty steep, meaning space is very limited.

Ultimately, that leads to a reduction in the number of plants capable of being grown.

There are no huge fields of these plants. The space doesn’t allow for it.

Instead, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is grown in small areas that are often difficult to access, leading to smaller harvests and fewer coffee beans produced.

But this section is about the climate.

Thanks to the elevation it must be grown at, it does mean these beans are exposed to cooler temperatures than most coffee. As a result, it leads to the beans growing more slowly, which profoundly impacts the taste.

But how much longer does it take? 

Well, most coffee takes 5 months, moving from the plant’s bloom to the harvest. But not Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Instead, this coffee can take up to double that time at 10 months. However, it does change the flavor profile, as I mentioned earlier.

What Does Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Taste Like?

Preparing coffee

The altitude has a significant impact on the taste of this coffee. Those slow-growing conditions and cooler temperatures result in a denser and harder coffee bean than your average bean. 

This leads to a completely different taste.

What you get here is coffee with a more mellow flavor. It’s full-bodied, but the slow growth does help reduce any potential bitterness to the bean. 

Many feel it comes across as having something of a fruity taste to it, while some argue it has a slight sweetness to it. Others think it verges on being creamy in the taste, but that’s not something I’m entirely sure about.

But the one thing I can state is it doesn’t leave any sense of a poor aftertaste in your mouth.

There’s something of a silky taste to it, and if you are lucky enough to try some, you will quickly understand why it’s viewed as one of the easiest coffees to drink.

So, I feel the taste of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee can be summed up as:

  • It’s not bitter to the taste
  • It is smooth and almost silky
  • It has flavors of fruit and nuts without being overpowering
  • It comes with a pleasant aroma

What Role Does the Soil Play In Growing Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee?

The soil always plays a significant role in how coffee beans grow and develop. So, it’s no surprise that this also applies to Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Here, the soil is volcanic in origin, and that’s a good thing. It means the soil is packed with various nutrients that help the plants grow. 

This fertile soil is only a part of it all.

The sides of the mountains also experience ample rainfall, so even though it may come across as difficult conditions, nature has created a way of ensuring it’s the perfect conditions for this type of coffee. 

Oh, and the area also gets more cloud cover than you would expect for Jamaica, so the soil doesn’t dry out the same, allowing the plants to flourish.

Quality Control For Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Remember at the start, I said the growers only pick the best coffee beans? Well, that’s all linked to the quality control associated with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. 

Even though so much coffee is grown in areas that are struggling economically, most coffee beans are sorted via a machine.

However, that’s not the case here.

Instead, the coffee beans are still sorted by hand!

Even though it clearly slows the process down, it does mean each coffee bean is perfect, leading to a better cup of coffee in the end. Also, there’s just something cool about the traditional approach.

But the quality control is also overseen by JACRA.

That stands for the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority. It used to be known as Jamaican Coffee Industry Board until 2018. 

This authority really goes all-in when it comes to looking after the quality of the coffee. They are proud, and rightly so, of the quality of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, and they scrutinize each harvest to ensure the quality does not drop.

I think when you check out the quality control process associated with this coffee, it’s going to be tough to find coffee from elsewhere in the world that goes through such a stringent process.

The Roasting of Jamaican Blue Mountain Beans

roasted beans

Anybody who loves coffee will know the roasting process is integral to the end product.

In the case of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, the beans are lightly roasted, but it’s the way in which they are roasted that I love.

You see, this coffee is old-school.

The growers here keep things nice and simple, so even the roaster is basic. It’s certainly not some high-tech supersonic roaster that other growers in other parts of the world will use.

Instead, I see using a basic roaster as playing a fundamental role in allowing the bean to be roasted gently so the flavor is enhanced rather than being blasted by heat. 

After this part of the process, it’s all up to you to make your perfect cup of coffee. Any mistakes will be your mistakes alone.

It’s Easier to Get it in Japan

I want you to remember how Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee accounts for a small fraction of the total amount of coffee produced globally each year.

After that, consider that up to 80% of this amount is exported to Japan. You will then see how it becomes even harder for the rest of the world to get their hands on some.

But I also encounter a few problems.

When something is so scarce and prized, it leads to the development of what is basically counterfeit coffee.

Yes, some companies will go ahead and produce fake Blue Mountain coffee and sell it for a premium price.

I hate that very idea, and it would then be very easy to taste it, hate it and then wonder what all the fuss is about. I cringe at the thought of that!

Alternatively, what can also happen, and I’ve seen some products for sale like this, is it contains a small amount of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

They then mix it with another coffee. Sadly, they still promote it as the authentic version, which is a bit of a stretch. 

So I would only ever suggest getting your hands on Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from suppliers that are known to be trustworthy.

It could make the difference between enjoying your experience or thinking this coffee is vastly overrated. 

My Facts Round-Up

For me, learning more about Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee has really inspired me to go ahead and get some and discover the taste in person. I see these points as being the main reason why I want to do that.

  • I appreciate the care taken over the bean selection
  • I appreciate the fact the bean is not bitter at all and is smooth
  • Something is appealing about doing things the old way
  • The climate produces a unique bean unlike anything else in the world
  • Scarcity makes you want to try something even more
  • It has so many unique aspects that all come together to create the bean

To Conclude

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is so special because of its scarcity, the quality, and the smooth taste, which means it will appeal to almost every coffee lover. But you will have to get to work in tracking it down and be prepared to pay more than you are perhaps used to for your coffee. 

However, I can guarantee it will be worth the effort, but do me a favor. Take your time when drinking it. Enjoy the taste because it will be an experience that’s worth checking out.