Why does Jamaican Blue Mountain Cost so Much

Jamaican Blue Moutain Gourmet Coffee

I tried to find out back in 1980 when I journeyed to Kingston, Jamaica to see the Blue Mountain for myself. 150 years ago, the British sent their best coffees from this region to their consulates around the world. Word of mouth over the years spread that if you wanted a great cup of coffee, you could get it at any British Consulate.

"Watt part the Blue Mountin' you lookin' for, Mann?" The bus driver asked as I stepped over 3 live chickens tied together at the foot of an old woman with 3 small children all colorfully dressed. It's a range- not a single peak, I found out- and dug out my letter of introduction for "Wallenford Estates". "Never hered of it", he said. The bus, filled with native people, livestock, and me, lurched forward slowly up the crooked path. We crept along for 2 hours until I was told to get off and "start walkin'" up hill. After 20 minutes, a 4-wheel jeep with 3 very big "Rastas" stopped to pick me up and take me to the lodge at the top. (All the next hour, they tried to talk me into coming to their house instead.) Coffee seems to grow perfectly in these atmospheric conditions, jungle soil, and precipitation. Coffee tasters didn't take the British word on this Blue Mountain coffee, they concluded on their own ( John Ukers, 1933) that coffee on the Blue Mountain contained 100% flavor and aroma. They said it was the finest, most well-rounded coffee on earth.

As we came to the clearing at the top of the ridge, the slope of the mountain down toward the sea lay open to view. Thousands of coffee trees could be seen in small plots mixed with jungle and mist. The old lodge was inhabited by 3 coffee gardeners, and an old bandana clad, portly lady. I was the only visitor that night. The workers disappeared and the old woman gave me a very simple but tasty meal before bed. I could see her in the tiny kitchen with charcoal fire sparks lighting up her face and 5 small children sitting around her skirt as she told scary stories to the wide-eyed group.

Next morning, I walked for hours on the paths leading to the Blue Mountain coffee plots. The 12 foot trees with big red, ripe cherries lay heavy on the trees. They pick them one at a time every six months. Shade trees and palms protect the coffee trees from too much sun. I kept trying to get a cup of coffee, but all I could get up on the ridge was instant Sanka. The three workers took me along with them and showed me how they kept, fertilized, and picked the beans. They never heard of the place I wanted to go to and after a few days, I went back to Kingston without ever getting to Wallenford Estates.

Later I found out it was quite a ways off and the road to it began at the base of the Blue Mountain range many miles from where my adventure had began. I learned from two Jamaican coffee board members how the government must inspect, clear and grade each shipment that leaves the island. There are three types of Jamaican coffee depending on how high up the mountain the trees grow. The Estate certified Blue Mountain is the best. It's certification means a lot since there is no truth in labeling laws in the industry. My last night in Kingston, I splurged on a really good meal of roasted goat and potato salad. I ordered their best cup of coffee with the dessert custard and my taste buds were anticipating my first great coffee treat. INSTANT AGAIN!!!! It wasn't until I arrived back in San Francisco and brewed it in my kitchen that I really got a great cup of Jamaican. 100% flavor, aroma, and taste, sweet and smooth.

So, it is 30+ years later, and we are carrying Wallenford Estate Jamaican Blue Mountain and it IS the finest coffee on earth.
Peter Torsiello

Peter is my wife's brother and for my wife's brother who owned and operated The Coffee Mill in Oakland CA for many years.
Jamaican Blue Mtn


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