Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee: A Legal Buzz From the Land of Wood and Water

Categories: Travel Hog
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All photos by Laine Doss
Short Order was recently invited to join a diverse group of food bloggers to tour some of the more out of the way places in Jamaica. Today, we'll share a visit to a coffee plantation in part one of a three-part tour of the road less traveled in Jamaica.

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Shacks along the mountain road serve as neighborhood bars, restaurants and grocery stores.
We leave Kingston early for the drive to the Clifton Mount Estate in the Blue Mountain Range. The drive up the one road leading to the summit is filled with sharp turns that the small bus can hardly manage. Traveling up the mountain, we pass many small towns, schoolchildren in crisp blue uniforms, and tiny tin-roofed shacks that serve as groceries, bars, and restaurants.

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Halfway up the mountain, in Irish Town, we stop at Cafe Blue, a little coffee bar with a huge view. Though lattes are available, the best way to drink Blue Mountain Coffee is black, since this coffee is valued for it's mild, chocolatey taste.

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The Clifton Mount Estate
Reaching the summit, we're welcomed by Lawrence and Richard Sharp, owners of the Clifton Mount Estate. Located at 4,300 feet above sea level, this is considered premium coffee growing territory. The estate is beautiful, with about 80 acres of coffee plants and a magnificent view of Blue Mountain Peak, the highest point in the Blue Mountain range.

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Coffee cherries are red when ripe.
Richard Sharp gives us a tour of the farm, along with a lesson in coffee picking. The farm is certified by the Rainforest Alliance and is 75 percent organic, meaning they spray only isolated crops with pesticides. Arabica Typica beans are planted, per government guidelines, and each plant takes three years to yield coffee cherries.

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Coffee is sorted in water. Cherries that float are rejected.
Coffee cherries are monitored closely for the exact moment of ripeness. Once hand-picked, they're sorted in a water bath. Cherries that sink are deemed worthy for roasting. "Floaters" are inferior and will be used for instant coffee.

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The fruit is then stripped from the beans and used as fertilizer. Water is recycled after going through a charcoal purification process. The beans are shipped down the mountain to Kingston where they'll dry in the sun for up to four weeks before being ready to roast.Some coffee is roasted for resale, but the bulk of coffee is shipped green -- ready to be roasted by individual coffee houses.

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Coffee crops in the Jamaican Blue Mountains
Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is heavily regulated by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica, which assures that only coffee grown in the Blue Mountain range using specific plant guidelines can use the trademarked "Jamaica Blue Mountain" designation. That certification commands high prices, with Blue Mountain coffee selling for $35-50/pound in the U.S.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when we visit a honey farm, an organic restaurant and the Bob Marley Museum.

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3 comments
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Seane Marie
Seane Marie

This is so beautiful. I understand why bai makes a flavor dedicated to the Jamaica Blue Mountains now - Jamaica Blueberry. It's an antioxidant beverage that uses coffee fruit extract as a superfood.

http://www.drinkbai.com

Yak
Yak

Very informative. I want to go there now!

Chef sean
Chef sean

I must agree this is the best coffee in the world!!  Praise Jah Rastafari! 

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