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About Jamaica Blue Mountain Clifton Mount Peaberry
Extremely small crop season this year in Jamaica, no doubt caused by severe weather. Consequently, we have only been able to secure a small quantity of coffee for our customers. We have had a relationship with the growers of this farm for nearly a decade. This lot is entirely peaberrry. Peaberries are separated from flat beans and sold on their own merits. The smaller beans are hand selected and the available quantity is limited and in very high demand.
For those who may not be familiar with the peaberry, it is a common seed mutation. The bean develops into an elongated pearl shape, forming just a single seed or coffee bean, as opposed to typical flat beans. Most coffee cherries have two opposing flat seeds at their center but the peaberry has but one. Generally, about 3 to 10 percent of a coffee crop contains peaberry, and as in this case, they are separated from from flat beans. Peaberries have different roasting and flavor characteristics; due to their shape they roll easily in drum roasters (Behmor, Hottop, Gene) and are less prone to scorching; in hot air roasters (Fresh Roast et al) they do not circulate as well in the airstream as they have less surface area. In taste, they have a somewhat increased flavor concentration.
Beautiful signature wooden barrels filled with unroasted coffee from our favorite Jamaica source arrived the beginning of December 2019.
Clifton Mount coffee plantation began production in the early to mid 18th century and land records suggest coffee growing there in 1810 making it the oldest functioning coffee estate in Jamaica. For the past 35 years it has been owned by the Sharp family who have modernized processing with an eye toward ecology and environment. Clifton Mount is the only coffee plantation in the Blue Mountains to be Rainforest Alliance certified, attesting to their land management practices.
Jamaica Blue Mountain is an appellation, much like the French have done with their prized wine regions. In order to be called Jamaica Blue Mountain the coffee must come from the parishes of Portland, St Andrew, St. Mary or St Thomas which are in eastern part of the island. This entire area is quite small as a growing region, only about 15,000 acres in its entirety. Roughly 85% of the tiny production is exported to Japan.
Jamaica's Blue Mountain coffee has long held a reputation as being one of the world's best coffees and certainly one of its most expensive; whether deserving or not is of much conjecture. Perhaps twenty five or more years ago this may have been true, but today, with artisanal crops being grown in several parts of the world, it is certainly not alone. In September 1988 Hurricane Gilbert wreaked havoc on Jamaica, its people and its coffee industry, destroying 70 percent of the trees there. The hurricane, one of the most intense ever recorded, became a category 5 storm as it passed over the island. Winds were in excess of 155 mph and the mountains had 27 inches of rainfall. That singular weather event essentially ended quality coffee production which took nearly two decades to fully recover.
This single plantation Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee has the signature smoky, nearly hickory flavor characteristic the Blue Mountain Typica varietal. ts price is reasonable and certainly in line with its quality and reputation.
Region: Newcastle, St. Andrew Parish
Processing: Fully washed, traditional fermentation
Drying: Patio, 100% sun dried
Altitude: 4300 average
All growing and processing is done on the plantation. The estate's wetmill was designed to minimize water usage.
Cup Characteristics: Classic Jamaica Blue cup. Smooth, sweet and very clean. Full body, very well balanced, delicate. Signature, naturally smoky note with flavors of chocolate and honey. Floral, hint of rosewater, mildly acidic. Dry white wine finish.
Roasting Notes: Peaberries roll around in drum roasters so roasts can be very even, more than with flat beans. This coffee can approach second crack but don't go much further than its first few sounds. As good as Peaberries are in drum roasters they can pose a problem with air roasters as the shape is not conducive to being elevated by the air stream.
Jamaica coffee facts:
Population (2011): 2,825,000
Coffee Production: 40,000 bags (60 kg), one of the smallest in the world. 85% goes to Japan, 5%USA, 5% Europe, 5% all other countries.
Regulation: All coffee production is licensed by the Coffee Board of Jamaica.
Employs: 90,000 persons including 9,500 registered farmers.
Country bag capacity: Jamaica Blue in wooden barrels up to 70kg
Domestic Consumption: 10,000 bags
Coffee Export: 30,000 bags
Area of coffee cultivation: 28,000 acres of which Blue Mountain is 9,000.
Harvests: June - July in the Blue Mountains.
Arabica Introduced: Introduced in the early 18th century. First coffee dates to 1728.
Specialty Coffee Regions: Chamchamayo Valley in the center of the country.
Grades: 1 (screen 17/18 with least defects), 2, 3, PB, other lesser grades.
Botanical Varietals: Typica, almost exclusively.
One of the world's best and most expensive coffees. But, the country has been beset with harsh hurricanes about once each seven years that generally inflict crop damage. The Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica has protected the designated Blue Mountain trademark and its appellation since 1953, to insure that quality standards are upheld and that coffee sold under its name is certified and not counterfeit. When everything lines up, JBM is a world class coffee.