Would you spend $40 a pound for a killer cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee?

Would you spend $40 a pound for a killer cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee?

I asked myself that question when Chadwick Conte of C&C Specialty Coffee asked me if I wanted to do a taste test/review of his Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, apparently one of the most expensive coffees in the world.  Being a coffee fiend, and overall foodie, I said sure.  We don’t normally do “reviews” on the blog, but we do write about things we like outside of politics, and I thought it might be fun to explore the word of super-duper gourmet coffee.  So here goes.

In a nutshell. I liked it. I’ll be buying some as gourmet Christmas gifts. But I’m not sure I can afford the price tag for my daily drinking.

Now, a bit more detail.

I googled Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, and apparently it is a big deal.  And an expensive big deal.  $40 a pound is not cheap, and while they have it cheaper at Costco, it sounded to me like Costco’s might be a blend of beans and not pure Jamaican Blue Mountain (curious if anyone has the deets on that).

So Chadwick sent me the medium roast and the dark roast to try, and he advised me, and I also found the same noted online, that this coffee is lighter, and has less caffeine, than regular coffee.  And he was right.  And that’s what makes this a great afternoon coffee, for me at least, but not a great morning coffee.

I need a caffeine punch in the gut in the morning, and this stuff isn’t it.  But for the afternoon, when I feel like a big cup of  Joe, but don’t want to be bouncing off the walls any more than I usually am, the Jamaican Blue Mountain was great.  The caffeine was subtle, gave me a little buzz, but nothing like my favorite dark roast from Paris, Carte Noire (oddly, made by Kraft, but not sold in the US), which you get in 8 oz bags and isn’t terribly cheap (Paris isn’t cheap), or my second-runner up, Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend, which goes for around $8 for 12 oz, which is 3/4 of a pound.

So, over the past several weeks, I’ve been giving the Jamaican Blue Mountain a spin.  The first day, I made the mistake of making it for breakfast.  Oh the headache that afternoon when my body realized it hadn’t gotten its daily dose of caffeine!  But for some people, the low caffeine content is a plus, not a negative.

Chadwick sends beans, he insists they preserve the flavor better, and I have a Siemens grinder I think I’ve had for 20 years, it’s a workhorse.  So I ground my own beans, which is always great for scaring the dog and filling the air with a wonderful aroma.  Some folks online recommended that you grind it especially fine, so I did.



For brewing my morning coffee, I like to use an old Italian cafetiere that my mom might have gotten in Italy decades ago.  The thing is as much a workhorse as my grinder.  I piled it extra high, as folks online had suggested, and set it atop my stove.

Pretty soon, I had coffee brewing up.

I’ve tried the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffees two different ways.  First, as a cappuccino:

And then, in a manner which the Italians taught me when I was in college.  with sweetened condensed milk, which can be a tad too sweet, but is just decadent (it’s like drinking a coffee-flavored seven-layer cookie):

The coffee was good.  Interestingly, I found that the dark roast, when I added sugar to it and nothing else, was quite drinkable as is.  And I don’t drink black coffee, ever.  I’m a milk and sugar guy.  But it was that yummy with just sugar (didn’t have the same sense from the medium blend).

Drinking it with the sweetened condensed milk was a joy.  It’s more subtle than my French coffee, which can sometimes even overpower the sweetened condensed milk.  This stuff does not.

Then as a cappuccino.  The Jamaican Blue Mountain held its own, though I still probably prefer my French coffee’s overpowering flavor for my cappuccio.  But the Blue Mountain wasn’t bad.  Contrast that to a Nespresso machine I got recently as a gift.  The thing couldn’t make a strong enough cup of coffee if it tried.  Or rather, the coffee is strong, but the servings are so small that I need to use two of those 60 cent coffee pods for each of the two morning cappuccinos that I normally have each day (totaling $2.40 a day for my morning coffee, which is a bit insane for coffee made at home).

So is the Jamaica Blue Mountain worth the price?  As a gift, certainly.  I’l be buying a few bags for family members for Christmas as “gourmet” gifts – I like the idea of giving people pampering things they might not give themselves.  But for myself, because of the low caffeine content, and the price, it’s probably not the coffee I’d go for for my daily blend.  (Though I could see keeping a pound around for something “special” to serve at dinner parties – again, makes a nice gift for any foodies that you know.)

So there you have it.  You can visit Chadwick’s online store and peruse the goods here.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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