null Skip to main content
Blue Mountain Coffee is highly specific. It’s grown in Jamaica, in the Blue Mountains. That last tidbit of information you could’ve probably deduced on your own, but it goes much further than that. The beans must be harvested from four specific parishes—Portland, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and St. Mary.

Even more than that, the beans in those parishes must grow above altitudes of 3,000 feet and under 5,500 feet to qualify as Blue Mountain Coffee.

You probably already know that altitude is important in coffee growing. It has more to do with the harsher environment than anything 'magical' to do with being closer to the heavens. At that altitude, plants are less capable of growing, which means less chance of disease, as well. 

In addition, much like diamonds, hydraulics, and me as a deadline is looming, pressure is what really cinches the deal with high altitude beans. Up so high, they grow harder and denser, limited by the amount of water, but their flavors are given more time to deepen thanks to developing complex sugars. 

I’ve seen other beans grown at altitudes higher than that. What gives?

What makes Blue Mountain coffee so coveted are the unique conditions that come along with that high altitude and harsh environment specifically in the Blue Mountains. Cool, covered in mist, and touching the clouds, this volcanic soil nurtures a truly distinctive drinking experience. It takes double the amount of time for these coffee plants to ripen for the picking at a total of 10 months.

The Jamaicans really know how to capitalize on what they have, though—they know this coffee is a true gem, and, to make this beautiful rock shine, they go the extra mile.

The labor-intensive picking process is followed by rigorous scrutiny. Only picture-perfect beans are allowed to be considered to be Blue Mountain Coffee. Most roasters use machines to separate out good and bad beans, but that’s no way to treat a premier product.

These beans are separated out by hand, inspected for any undesirable qualities, such as being too big or two small. Next, they are separated out by any defects, such as those made by the coffee borer beetle. Only perfectly whole, totally untarnished beans join the approved pile.

And we're not done yet! Not by a long shot.

After the beans are roasted, the Coffee Industry Board or Jamaica must formally approve them. Yes, there is a Jamaica Coffee Industry Board (JCIB, for short) and I have never been so happy to discover that there is a panel of experts cupping this beautiful, caffeinated beverage.

The JCIB sets the rules and regulations, inspects the beans green and roasted, and then blind taste test the coffee for the good of all coffee connoisseurs. (I’m writing a thank-you note simply because these people exist!)

They fill out detailed forms regarding the coffee and then decide whether it’s worthy of the Blue Mountain seal — and yes, there’s a real seal. I’m not just speaking metaphorically. Blue Mountain is an internationally protected brand, and if you don’t see the official seal and paper trail, put it down and forget about it.