One of the most revered beans in the world is the expensive Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. To some, coffee is just a nice, calming way to start the day. To others, it’s one of the most flavorful and important parts of their diet. There’s a wide range of coffee beans on the market, with varying flavors, roast profiles, and caffeine content. Most of the stuff you see at the store are low or medium quality beans from massive factory farms. However, there are a few that stand above the crowd. Let’s go over what makes these beans so expensive, famous and coveted.
What Is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee?
This illusive coffee is one of the most expensive roasts that you can find. It’s upwards of 4 times the going rate for your average pound of beans. But loyalists to this rare coffee will swear that it’s absolutely worth it. They come from an incredibly small coffee growing region, grown in some of the most ideal conditions in the world. Certified beans come from only a handful of estates. Most of the roasters that buy the green beans treat them with the utmost respect and care. These factors combine to give you an incredibly flavorful brew.
Why Is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee So Expensive?
Who wouldn’t want such a delicious, exclusive coffee roast? One of the biggest deal breakers for this bean is the seemingly absurd price. It can be more than triple the price of your average beans, which can already be pretty pricey for pure Arabica beans. It’s not a small price to pay, and many coffee enthusiasts are left wondering just how much better these beans are than the average cup. The reason for this price discrepancy comes down to simple supply and demand. There’s low supply and high demand, bringing up the price.
As we mentioned before, Jamaica isn’t a major coffee exporting region. Despite the prominence of caribbean coffees like Costa Rica, this tropical island is better known for its beaches than its beans. But the Blue Mountains grow some of the finest coffee in the world, however small the region is. All of the factors that go into producing these premium beans limit the number of farmers that can actually produce these beans, resulting in the small output.
Add all the to the fact that the majority of these beans aren’t coming to the United States, and you have some rare, expensive beans. Of course, this also adds to their mythical status, making them even more coveted. When you have low supply like this, the price can easily get out of control, especially once you factor in these beans’ demand.
When you’re dealing with the economics of supply and demand, price will always move up when supply is low and demand is high. Because these are such coveted beans, people are willing to comply with the exorbitant prices. Of course, nothing is overpriced as long as people are paying for it. So even though it comes out to as much as 4 times the price of your average Arabica beans, the high demand for Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee keeps the cycle going. And while not everyone’s going to keep their cabinets stocked with them, anyone can at least try these beans.
The cost of farming
In addition to supply and demand economics, there’s a huge overhead involved with bringing these crops from the farm to your kitchen. The farmers, shippers, suppliers, and roasters all have to maintain their overhead. And when you have such a limited quantity of these beans going out, the cost-to-coffee ratio is going to go up. While factory farms can easily pay the bills without charging much for their beans, these Blue Mountain estates are going to need to charge a lot more to keep their beans shipping.
Is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee The Best In The World?
There are a few runners up for the best coffee in the world. Colombian coffee is a fan favorite, since its iconic flavor produces a rich cup of joe, and doesn’t necessarily break the bank. Some people only judge their coffee based off of caffeine content, while others have stomach issues and want the least acidic coffee possible. A lot of this is preference, but you can at least take a look at the strengths of this iconic bean.
Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee has a full-bodied, aromatic flavor with a nice rounding of brightness and acidity. This is rare for a deep tasting coffee, and can also change depending on the roast profile. Dark roasts will have more caramelized flavors, while light roasts will get you more of those floral overtones.
Depending on your preferences and price tolerance, you may find this bean to be the best in the world. Its cost certainly makes it seem that way, and its loyal followers would certainly argue that. What matters most is that you enjoy the flavor and are comfortable with the price. So even if your go-to is a reasonably priced world blend, you can always try turning to this iconic roast when you want some gourmet coffee.
Where The Beans Are Harvested
While the name seems like a marketing ploy, these beans are actually named after the region they’re grown in. The Blue Mountains are a small region in Jamaica that grows these beans. While all of this coffee is grown in the Jamaican Blue Mountains, not all coffee grown there is certified. The growers have to be certified, meaning that they go through a rigorous process. The beans have to be raised between 2000 and 5000 feet of elevation, and must be Arabica.
Jamaica isn’t exactly a coffee growing powerhouse. Less than 20% of all beans from the island are grown in these mountains. Even then, only a few estates can certifiably give their beans this badge of honor. The result is that these beans make up a tiny fraction of Jamaica’s output. This adds to their cult-like status, and to their price. But they also get a unique, perfectly balanced flavor that perfect for any gourmet coffee. Even a coffee novice will be able to taste their quality after the first sip.
Unique Growing Environment
Coffee is a sensitive crop, requiring very specific conditions to get a good yield. Every factor of the environment will impact the flavor. It’s crucial that the beans are grown at the right altitude, humidity, and temperature, with ideal sun exposure and precipitation. It typically grows in tropical regions near the equator like Honduras or Sumatra. The volcanic soil usually imparts an earthy fullness. Arabica beans have a more premium flavor, but aren’t nearly as sturdy as Robusta beans. This means that they’re even more sensitive to farming conditions.
As mentioned before, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee requires certification to be truly given the title. The estates that grow these coveted beans undergo evaluation, and must meet specific farming standards. The beans are always Arabica, are grown at a specific altitude, and are processed with the washing technique. This is a hands-on approach, in contrast to the industrial techniques used by cheaper beans. The final result is a bean that packs in all of the delicious flavors. This includes what we love in coffee without being overwhelming and acidic.
Why The Beans Are Rare To Find In America
The growing process is what brings the price of these beans so high, and is why they’re such rare beans. But they aren’t the primary factor in what makes them so delicious. Sure, the growing process is critical to the flavor of the beans. The roasting and brewing process are what make these beans pop. Different roasts bring out different flavors from the beans, and work with different brewing processes. So if you’re lucky enough to live near a craft roaster that carries these iconic beans, make sure to give them a try at least once.
Most Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is actually chipped off to Japan, which is why it’s so rare to find in America. You’ll never find a roaster that doesn’t treat these beans without the utmost respect and craftsmanship. However, you may actually have trouble finding them in the first place. If you do find them, roasters like to keep these beans at a medium or light roast. This is to bring out all of the natural flavors of the coffee fruit. It’s an increasingly popular trend, and gives you a brighter, more acidic brew with floral and citrus overtones.
Getting That Perfect Morning Brew
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is truly one of the crown jewels of the coffee drinking world. It’s nearly mythical status comes from it’s exclusive coffee growing region, the care that goes into the farming process, and the respect and artisanship from the roasters. You get a perfectly smooth cup that doesn’t have too much acid, and can use these beans for any brew method. They’re grown using natural farming and processing techniques, and you can really taste it. This legendary bean is one of the most expensive, but best ways to ensure that your morning cup is absolutely perfect.