Why is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee so special?
Grown only in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, Kingston to the south and Port Antonio to the north, this coffee is tightly regulated by the Jamaica Commodities Regulatory Authority.
It is protected globally by its certification mark and more than 80% of the coffee produced is exported to Japan.
At its best the coffee is noted for its mild flavour and lack of bitterness, making it one of the most expensive varieties in the world.
Partly this is due to the climate and altitude of the mountains. They are some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean and the best Blue Mountain coffee is grown above 3,000 feet.
Generally, in the coffee growing world, the higher the growing altitude, the harder the bean; the harder the coffee bean, the higher the quality but also the difficulty in harvesting adds to the price.
The region’s climate is cool and misty with high rainfall. The soil is rich, with excellent drainage. This combination of climate and soil is considered ideal for coffee.
The coffee is also a primary ingredient in the liqueur Tia Maria, along with Jamaican Rum, sugar and vanilla.
There are several legends attached to the origins of Tia Maria.
Perhaps one of the best known is the story that in the 17th century. A young Spanish girl was forced to flee Jamaica, and the family plantation during a conflict. She was accompanied by a sole female servant who carried a bit of jewelry and the recipe for the family liqueur.
In honour of the woman’s help, the girl named the liqueur “Tia Maria” (tía is Spanish for “aunt”), her name for the woman who had helped save her life.
However, there is also a theory that this story was fabricated by marketers in order to promote the liqueur.