Jamaican coffee can refer to several types of coffee grown in Jamaica. Most commonly, when coffee from Jamaica is discussed, what is meant is Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, which is one of the most desired (and most expensive) coffees in the world. There are other types of Jamaican coffee that can be enjoyable to drink too, and certainly deserve mention, even if they lack the prestige of Blue Mountain.
Coffee was first grown in Jamaica in the 18th century, and initially was not grown in the Blue Mountain area. The Blue Mountain name now refers to the coffee grown in certain areas of Jamaica that are at a high elevation. The Jamaican Coffee Board regulates names and types of all coffees grown, and the Blue Mountain designations (there are several) are only given when the coffee is grown in specific areas, at particular elevations, and when it meets certain standards for quality. Region and elevation may be more important than bean type, and typically most Jamaican coffees are Arabica beans.
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The Blue Mountain designations can be confusing. Some coffees sold outside of Jamaica may be a blend of Blue Mountain and other types of coffee, and should clearly state they are a blend. There are additionally some coffees sold as Blue Mountain type which may not contain any coffee that is grown or roasted in Jamaica, but is said to approximate the taste.
As mentioned, there are other types of Jamaican coffee. High Mountain can refer to coffees grown at high elevations that aren’t in the Blue Mountain area, or that are below the specific elevations where Blue Mountain beans are grown. Prime coffee is another type of coffee that might be grown anywhere in Jamaica.
Given the significant variation in the types of Jamaican coffee grown, taste and pricing have great differences. It can be said that most types are celebrated for a mild taste with little bitterness, and there is some justifiable comparison between Kona coffee and Jamaican styles. This mildness and smoothness, that doesn’t sacrifice flavor, and an almost sweet quality, is especially noted in the higher priced types of coffee from the island.