Why does Jamaican Blue Mountain Cost so Much
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
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 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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