Sadly, the Caribbean region lies in the heart of the hurricane belt, putting it at risk to wholesale crop devastation. That is exactly what happened in the exceptionally nasty 2004 season. Four storms in rapid succession–Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne–tore through the islands and Florida, making good on the notion of a worst-case scenario.
Jamaican Blue Mountain, one of the most superb coffees of a region already rich in splendid beans, suffered badly. Approximately 60 percent of the Jamaican crop was destroyed during the course of these storms. Fortunately, the upcoming season should bring this spectacular coffee back into full circulation.
Like other coffees in Central America and the Caribbean, Jamaican Blue Mountain is an Arabica bean. Called by many the world's most perfectly balanced mix of acidity, body, and flavor, the coffee is smooth and delightful. It grows amidst the island's majestic string of hills at between about 2,000 and 5,000 feet, flanking a national forest preserve. Famous as far back as the 18th century, Blue Mountain today is grown on only a few certified estates.
Blue Mountains: Ideal Conditions, Exquisite Taste
Hand picked, the berries are processed at a facility licensed, registered, and overseen by the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board. With almost ideal conditions for growth–from the volcanic soil to the thick forest vegetation to the thick cloud cover to the elevation–it's small wonder that the Blue Mountain coffees are the delicacy they are famously recognized as being.
As far as capturing the taste of Blue Mountain goes, one can look to regional characteristics. Caribbean coffees as a group are accurately described as smooth, well balanced, sharp, medium in acidity, and fragrant. Other adjectives include nutty and chocolaty. Jamaican Blue Mountain, not unlike Hawaiian Kona, offers the ultimate of all these attributes.