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Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the most desirable and therefore the most expensive coffees in the world. This coffee is from beans grown on coffee plantations located in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. The certifying board in Jamaica not only specifies where the coffee must be grown in order to claim the name Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, but it specifies in great detail where the coffee is grown and at what altitude.
For instance, only coffee grown in the parishes of Saint Andrew, Saint Thomas, Portland and Saint Mary at an altitude between 3000 and 5500 feet can be called Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. Coffee grown at elevations from 1500 to 3000 feet can be called Jamaica High Mountain and coffee grown at elevations below 1500 feet is called Jamaica Lowlands or Jamaica Supreme. No coffee is grown on the government lands located above 5500 feet, although the highest mountains rise to nearly 7500 feet.
There are three quality classifications the branded coffee dependent upon size of the coffee beans, with all sizes of bean at 96% for size ranging from 17/18 down and 2% for visible defects on Grades 1, 2, and 3. The fourth grade is for pea berry with is a bean with no split and the fifth grade known as Blue Mountain Triage is a mixture of Grades 1, 2, and 3 with up to 4% defects. In no case are elephant beans allowed, and no black or sour beans are allowed.
The coffee is known for its intense aroma, sweet taste, and fairly good body (feel in the mouth). There are no off flavors. The berries are always bluish-green and uniform in size.
In addition to the premium coffee grown in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, other Jamaican coffee is also well known for flavor and quality. This includes High Mountain Supreme which is coffee grown at high altitudes in Jamaica, but outside the four parish region specified as Blue Mountain. High Mountain Supreme is free from off-flavors, has good body and acidity and a fine aroma. It can be bluish green, green, or greenish in color and 2 percent maximum defects are allowed. There can be no sour or black beans allowed.
Jamaica Prime is also grown outside the Blue Mountain area and at lower altitudes. It has good aroma, body and acidity and is free from off-flavors. The color is green or greenish and the screen is at 16/17/18.
Jamaica Select is still a fairly good quality coffee with up to 4% defects and is greenish in color.
The peaberry is a type of coffee bean that grows naturally about 5 percent of the time. It is technically a defective bean, since it consists of a single fused pea shaped bean rather than two halves. The peaberry carries a stronger, more intense flavor and is prized by coffee drinkers as the caviar of coffee. It is quite expensive compared to other coffee. In other coffee growing areas, the peaberry is considered a defective bean and is discarded.