The History Of Blue Mountain Coffee & Where To Enjoy It In Jamaica

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Mild, polished, and satisfying, a cup of Blue Mountain coffee is a coffee lover’s dream. This island-grown coffee is one of the things Jamaica is known for and you can see for yourself why it's loved all over the world by trying it during a Jamaica vacation!

Of course, if you're planning on visiting Jamaica, there's likely lots more than coffee on your travel agenda. There are beaches like Seven Mile Beach to lounge on, waterfalls like Dunn’s River Falls to climb, and lots of food and music to experience. There are also lots of options for tours and excursions in Jamaica, including going to the Blue Mountains where the cherished Blue Mountain coffee is harvested. This coffee really is world-famous, so it’s one of the things you must try while in Jamaica.

Here’s all you need to know about Blue Mountain coffee and the best places to find it while in Jamaica!

Good to know: If you're looking at the Blue Mountains while in Jamaica, you'll notice a gentle mist at the peaks of the mountains on most days. From a distance, the mist makes the greenery of these mountains appear blue, which is likely how the Blue Mountains got their name.

What makes Blue Mountain coffee so special?

1. Where and how it’s grown

Blue Mountain coffee is grown in the Blue Mountain region on the east end of Jamaica. The Blue Mountain is the highest mountain in Jamaica (at 7,400 ft), and with a little research, you can gain some insights into the area. The elevation of this mountain comes in handy for the production of Blue Mountain coffee. In fact, there is a requirement that beans need to be cultivated at altitudes of 3,000 - 5,500 feet to even be categorized as Blue Mountain coffee in the first place. So only the coffee that is harvested at this altitude within the mountain range will wind up getting the Blue Mountain coffee label. This coffee is harvested in several different parishes including St. Mary, St. Andrew, Portland, and St. Thomas.

Additionally, as Blue Mountain coffee is being cultivated, the thick rainforest cover along the slopes of the mountains helps to create the ideal conditions for growth. Rainwater descends the slopes providing the beans with all the water they need to grow. Blue Mountain coffee thrives on this island because the tropical climate provides just the right doses of sunshine and water. These ideal conditions aren't found in many other parts of the world, explaining why Blue Mountain is one of the world’s best-tasting coffees.

Good to know: On average, 30,000 cups of freshly ground Blue Mountain blend coffee is poured a day at Beaches Resorts in Jamaica. This authentically Jamaican coffee is included in the all-inclusive offerings of Beaches Resorts.

2. All coffee beans are picked and separated by hand

Harvesting Blue Mountain coffee is an intricate process, with many steps done by hand. This includes picking the coffee beans and separating them. This is a very precise process, and the skilled workers carefully undertake their duties along the steep mountains. The coffee trees grow in small groups, so the workers need to make their way to the various areas to pick, then separate, and inspect. During the inspection process, any beans that do not make the cut are removed. This helps to ensure that only the best quality product remains. The coffee beans that are selected are usually the cleanest and most uniform beans.

3. Coffee must be approved by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica.

After the picking, separating, and inspecting process, Blue Mountain coffee beans then need to be roasted before they can be approved by the Coffee Industry Board (CIB) of Jamaica. This is important to verify that the beans were grown under the right conditions. The approval process helps to make sure that consumers get a consistent product that meets quality standards.

The Coffee Industry Regulation Act is responsible for Blue Mountain coffee having its own globally protected certification mark. Only after the beans from the various plantations have been certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica can they be legally sold as ‘Blue Mountain’ marked coffee. These formalities have helped to preserve the identity of Blue Mountain coffee throughout the years.

What does Blue Mountain coffee taste like?

Blue Mountain coffee has a sweet, rich flavor without the bitterness found in some other coffee blends. This popular Jamaican coffee is smooth and clean and, once you taste it, you’ll immediately understand why it is renowned for excellence. While sipping on your Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, preferably from the comfort of a luxurious all-inclusive resort suite, you’ll be able to enjoy its rich aroma with hints of sweet herbs, florals, and nutty overtones.

What is the history of Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica?

Blue Mountain coffee has a long and rich history in Jamaica. Its existence goes back to 1723 when Martinique was still a colony of France. It is said that King Louis XV sent some coffee plants to Martinique for cultivation. These plants then made their way from Hispaniola (present-day Haiti) to Jamaica where many were planted and flourished in St. Thomas Parish. By 1800, Jamaica had over 650 coffee plantations.

Where to buy Blue Mountain coffee?

There are a number of places where you can pick up Blue Mountain coffee during your visit to Jamaica. Guests of resorts like Beaches or Sandals can get Blue Mountain coffee directly from the resorts, whereas other travelers can source their coffee from the many local sellers around the island. It is also possible to purchase Blue Mountain coffee online.

Blue Mountain Jamaican Coffee Drip Brew

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Before purchasing, be sure to verify that it’s authentic Blue Mountain coffee that was produced on the best plantations in Jamaica. Jamaica Blue Mountain® Starbucks Reserve® makes it possible to try Blue Mountain coffee right in the U.S. and continue sipping on this quality blend even once you return home from your Jamaica vacation!

Other places you can get Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica include:

Wallenford Estate

Wallenford Estate in Kingston, Jamaica is one of the producers of Blue Mountain coffee. This version of Blue Mountain coffee is made with peaberry coffee beans, which have one cherry as opposed to two. This results in a product with an intense aroma and a distinctive and delicious taste. Wallenford also produces Jamaica High Mountain Coffee.

Clifton Mountain Estate

Clifton Mountain Estate is in St. Catherine’s Peak, Jamaica. At over 270 years old, this is one of the oldest plantations on the island that is still in operation. You can tour this estate, which is known for producing some of the best Blue Mountain coffee. You’ll see the coffee blossoms and beans as you stroll, and if you'd like, you can sample a ripened ruby-colored bean.

During a tour of this estate, your guide will show you how the beans are separated, washed, peeled, and ground before the fermentation stage. There are some mechanical aspects used in the processing of coffee beans here that help with efficiency.

Flamstead Estate Coffee

Flamstead Estate is more than 3,000 feet above sea level, just the right altitude to produce coffee that can be labeled as Blue Mountain coffee. The estate was founded by Ambassador Carlyle Dunkley in 1982, though coffee is said to have been grown here since 1764. The mission of this farm is to continually provide consumers with the best coffee the farm can possibly produce, and judging by the reviews, they’re doing so excellently.

Greenwich Estate Coffee

Greenwich Estate Coffee can be found about 4000 ft up the Blue Mountains. This estate has a meticulous process of harvesting coffee beans that honors time-tested traditions. Brewing the beans produced here gives a coffee flavor that is ‘exquisitely clean, mild, smooth, slightly sweet, and full-bodied’, according to the estate. The coffee has a tangy flavor of caramel and chocolate, with a refined and delicious finish.

Certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica (as all authentic Blue Mountain coffee blends are required to be), Greenwich Estate’s coffee is definitely one of those you should try if authenticity and environmental consciousness are important to you.

Good to know: Jamaica’s tropical climate and its variety of activities and attractions make it one of the best vacation destinations in the Caribbean. If you're planning a trip to the island, here are the best places to stay in Jamaica and some of the best Jamaica resorts. You can also check out the ultimate Jamaica packing list.

How to check if your Blue Mountain coffee is genuine

To check whether or not your Blue Mountain coffee is genuine, you just need to look for its globally protected certification mark. Only authentic Blue Mountain coffee will have this mark, which is awarded by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica. If the Blue Mountain coffee you're purchasing doesn't have this mark, then it is highly unlikely to be the real thing.

Blue Mountain Jamaican Coffee Blend Certified-Seal

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The globally protected certification mark on genuine Blue Mountain coffee consists of a blue circle with the words “Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee” printed on the Coffee Industry Board Seal. If you see this mark but are still not convinced, you can ask the person who is selling the coffee for the declaration paperwork -- this document is given to all official sellers of Blue Mountain coffee.

Aside from authenticity markers and documents, you can usually tell if what you’re looking at is real Blue Mountain coffee based on the price. It takes twice as long to harvest Blue Mountain coffee compared to other types of coffee, and this is usually reflected in the price. This brand is also in-demand, so it is not usually sold cheaply. You might find a few ‘Blue Mountain blends’ that could be less costly, but keep in mind that those may contain less than 10% of real Blue Mountain coffee as there are no internationally recognized criteria for these sorts of coffee blends.

Expert tip: If you stay at Beaches Resorts during your all-inclusive vacation in Jamaica, you can enjoy free Blue Mountain coffee with your stay. There are lots more Jamaican food and drinks you might want to try while on the island.

Blue Mountain coffee FAQs

Why is Blue Mountain coffee so expensive?

There is limited space available on the Blue Mountains where Blue Mountain coffee is grown, and it takes about ten months to harvest this coffee, making its supply very low. While its delicious taste puts this coffee in high demand, a limited supply makes Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee much more expensive than other coffee brands.

Is Blue Mountain coffee worth the price?

Blue Mountain coffee can be a little pricey, but it can definitely be worth the cost if quality and flavor are important to you. This premium brand is associated with a high-quality product that most coffee lovers agree is worth the price tag.

How much is Blue Mountain coffee per pound?

Blue Mountain coffee can cost about $58 USD per pound. The price you’ll pay for Blue Mountain coffee, however, ultimately depends on where you purchase it from.

What’s the best way to brew Blue Mountain coffee?

To prepare a delicious pot of Blue Mountain coffee, you can use either a French press, percolator, or drip pot. Just add two tablespoons of coffee and give it some time to brew. The coffee does not need to be boiled, and in fact, should not be. Consume as soon as possible after brewing for the best flavor and freshness.

What is the best way to store Blue Mountain coffee?

Go for a vacuum or an airtight container to preserve your Blue Mountain coffee and all its flavor. While there are many people that might point you in the direction of a refrigerator to store coffee or coffee beans, this is probably not your best option. The low temperatures inside a fridge can cause the coffee to lose some of its natural flavor and freshness.

Have an indulgent vacation in Jamaica - Blue Mountain coffee included!

Blue Mountain coffee is indeed one of the best in the world. The quality of authentic Blue Mountain coffee is regulated to ensure its consumers only receive the very best products. Many coffee lovers keep Blue Mountain coffee at the top of their preference list, and once you taste it (if you haven't already!), you’ll see why. Other than Blue Mountain coffee, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Jamaica. That list includes the endless activities this island has to offer and its natural beauty that’s always waiting to be explored.

Blue Mountain Coffee Beans

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If you travel to Jamaica for a family vacation, you may want to check out the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival that takes place annually. This event usually gets underway in the hills of the Blue Mountains, on the grounds of Newcastle. Coffee classes, tours of coffee farms, and hiking or cycling through the Blue Mountains are all part of this experience. You can stay at a resort in Ocho Rios or a resort in Negril, which makes it easy to arrange tours or attend events like this while in Jamaica. Blue Mountain coffee is also included in your all-inclusive stay at Beaches Resorts!

Expert tip: The best time to go to Jamaica is November until mid-December for the best flight and resort deals, or mid-December to April, which is peak season. Here are some Jamaica travel tips dos and don'ts.

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!