Famous internationally since the 18th century, Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee, which gets its name from the location where it is grown, is one of the most expensive coffees in the world. The rich soil and cool climate of the mountain, make it the ideal location for coffee growing. It is strictly regulated.
Only coffees grown in the higher elevations — between 3,000-5,500 feet — can bear the Blue Mountain label. Between 1,500-3,000 feet, it is known as Jamaica High Mountain, and below 1,500 feet, Jamaica Low Mountain or Supreme.
After I took this photo, I heard voices and looked in the direction where the sound was coming from. There were at least two people, each wearing floppy hats with bags strapped around their waists. As they released the berries from the trees, they dropped them into their bags. I watched for a few minutes, fascinated at how adroitly they navigated the side of the mountain without falling. Did I say how steep the mountain is? At this point, we’re about 4,000 feet. It’s almost a vertical drop.
Following handpicking, the berries are then floated in water to remove those that are underdeveloped or have been damaged by insects. They are inspected then washed again, to remove the sugary substance on the outer section of the beans, and dried. Following the drying process, the beans are bagged and warehoused for at least 10 weeks.
They are then hulled to reveal the bean which are polished and sorted according to size. They are also tested for taste, body and color. The last step is an inspection by hand to check each bean for defects.
1737, Jamaica exported over 83,000 pounds of coffee.
Approximately 7,000 farmers cultivate coffee in Blue Mountains, about 40% of them are women.
Japan was the largest importer of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee however, since the economic downturn, they no longer take the bulk of the crop, approximately 80%.
Average price of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee:
In the US – $48
In Japan – $62
Average payment to a farmer for a 60-pound box of berries: J$3,000 or about US$35.
This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.