Almost every coffee aficionado that has traveled to Jamaica has tried or at least wanted to try Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee but cannot understand why it cost so much, whether they buy it by the cup or the bag. I got curious too, so I did some research. Here’s what I found.
Why is Jamaica Blue Mountain Cost So Expensive?
Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is widely prized around the world for its extraordinary flavor profile and quality, and its exorbitant prices definitely reflect that.
To fully understand why this coffee continues to be one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world we must look further into each of the factor that make it cost so much.
1. Limited Coffee Production
Did you know that due the strict specifications on exactly where Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee can be grown, the total annual export of these coffee beans ranges from between only 400 and 1,000 metric tons per year.
This might seem like a lot of coffee, but it really isn’t, especially in comparison with some of the world’s biggest coffee exporters.
The amount of coffee that comes out of Jamaica per year is less than 0.04% of the amount of coffee that comes out of Brazil, which is the world’s foremost coffee-producing country, each year.
What’s more, each year, about 80% of all Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee ends up getting purchased by Japan, leaving only 20% of the supply left over for everyone else in the world.
2. Where it’s Grown in Jamaica
The Blue Mountains’ volcanic soil is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, which nurture the roots of delicate Arabica plants to their fullest quality.
The altitude of the Blue Mountain ridge is also absolutely perfect for Arabica plants, which thrive when grown between about 4,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level.
Finally, the specific climate of the Jamaican Blue Mountain ridge is absolutely crucial for quality coffee production.
These specifications may seem ridiculously strict, but there’s a reason the origins of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee plants are regulated as closely as they are — these strict specifications yield some of the highest-quality coffee in the world.
The geographic areas that produce Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee are perfectly situated to produce the most extraordinary coffee quality on the planet.
Arabica plants do especially well when they receive between 40 and 60 inches of rain per year, and this rain needs to be distributed evenly, falling regularly each month.
The Jamaica Blue Mountains receive the perfect amount of regular rainfall for Arabica plants, and, as an added bonus, the cloud cover that envelops the mountain ridge helps protect the coffee plants’ delicate leaves from overexposure to sunlight.
3. The Coffee Regulations in Jamaica
Obviously, the regulatory process that controls the growth, cultivation, and certification of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is very strict and very rigid.
In 1950, the Jamaican government established the Jamaican Coffee Industry Board (JCIB), whose sole purpose is to maintain the quality of exported Jamaican coffee, ensuring that no matter what country or region you come from, the Jamaican coffee that you consume meets the highest of quality standards.
In 2018, the JCIB was absorbed into an amalgamation of other Jamaican commodity quality control boards to form the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA).
Don’t fret, this merger doesn’t change the strict quality standards of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee production, so you can rest assured that your Jamaican coffee is as high of a quality as ever. This strict regulatory work is part of what makes Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee so expensive.
Every single barrel of green coffee (coffee beans that haven’t been roasted yet) that leaves Jamaica must be rigorously inspected by JACRA to ensure that it meets the highest of quality standards.
JACRA also does extensive work on regulating the growth, harvesting, processing, and marketing of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, so that the entire coffee-making process, from the planting of the seeds to the roasting of the beans is quality assured.
4. The Distinctive Taste
It’s very difficult to accurately describe the subtle, yet complex flavors of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee to those who haven’t tasted it before, but many coffee connoisseurs say that the coffee that comes from the Jamaican Blue Mountains is extraordinarily smooth, clean, and mild, but without tasting dull or bland.
The flavor profile of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is very complex, with subtle floral, nutty, chocolatey, spicy, and creamy notes, as well as just the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness.
Although all of these different notes and flavors might seem like they would clash, something about their proportions makes them work in harmony, creating an overall flavor profile that cannot be found in any other variety of coffee bean.
How much is Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee?
A one-pound bag of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, which is equivalent to about 50 or 60 cups of coffee, from such places as Volcanica Coffee might cost you anywhere between $50 and $60.
You can also get Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee in the form of individual single-serve K-Cups from Amazon. A pack of 72 Jamaican Blue Mountain K-Cups costs a whopping $124.
If you go poking around on the internet, you may stumble across retailers that claim to offer Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee for less than $10 or $20 per pound.
Although this may seem like a great deal, don’t be fooled. It’s highly unlikely that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee will ever be that cheap, and if a retailer is claiming that they can sell it to you for those low prices, their coffee probably isn’t the real deal.
Every single bag of real Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee comes with a seal of authenticity bestowed by the JACRA.
Without that seal of authenticity, you can be sure that the coffee you’re looking to purchase is a cheap knockoff, or a blend that contains a very small percentage of actual Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.
Because of its incredibly high prices, very few people can actually afford to purchase and drink Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee even once, let alone regularly.
However, if you’re a true coffee fanatic with a passion for the most delicious, nuanced, and complex coffee out there, you might want to put trying a cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee on your bucket list!