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IDIOT’S GUIDE: Blue Mountain coffee

You are leaning back into your planter’s chair on the veranda, legs crossed, eyes gazing into the calm haze that hovers over the mountains in Jamaica. The sun warms your skin, and the cool breeze that whispers through leaves is refreshing. Geometric patterns of coffee bushes line the steep sides of the mountains, and you can smell fresh coffee beans being roasted in classical machines that have been used for generations. Life seems to stand still in this reclaimed plantation house at the end of this narrow, winding dirt road. You are in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains are in eastern Jamaica, where a delicate combination of rich soil and a perfectly balanced climate come together to create a tiny bean that is internationally loved. While an unfortunate history of brutal slavery accompanies the earliest cultivation of what was referred to as “Black Gold” throughout the Caribbean, today coffee is seen as a sophisticated and social drink. For coffee connoisseurs, Blue Mountain Coffee is synonymous with luxury. The blue-green beans provide a sweet and acidic flavor, cultivating an unrivaled richness. While most coffee growers in the region cultivate the Robusta bean, Blue Mountain coffee is exclusively made from the Arabica bean. The fragile Arabica bean provides less caffeine but much more flavor, and it is difficult to grow, and making it much more sought after.

Today, limited quantities of Blue Mountain Coffee can be found internationally. Starbucks is actually featuring Blue Mountain coffee this season, charging a small fortune for a small bag. While Starbucks may have commercialized the treasured bean, the unique flavor can still be detected. However, to get the true experience of Blue Mountain coffee, order it online, or better yet, trek to Kingston and enjoy a fresh cup poured from a French press with a tablespoon of cow’s milk.

-Camille Bergsrud

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