What rare Starbucks whole bean coffee shows up only about once a decade at Starbucks? It’s Jamaica Blue Mountain.  This coffee launched at all the Clover designated Starbucks stores on June 29, 2010 and is available until the supplies run out.  I went to a mini-tasting event for it on the 28th, held at the First and Pike Starbucks, which is when all these photos were taken.  I am a fan of this coffee.  I hardly have much to say about it other than “get yourself some if you can”, but I’m such a fan of the coffee, it’s a blog post.

I want to remind my readers of a previous blog post I wrote about: Getting all the small batch coffees to more than just the 54 company-operated Clover stores.  The reality is that with 16,000 stores world wide, and 6000 company-operated stores in the United States, most will never see this coffee.  It’s obvious that 54 out of even 6000 is a small percentage of stores.  I wrote a previous blog post which was a “proposal” to bring small batch coffees to certain designated stores, and I’d invite my readers to go back and look it over:

Sending rare coffee to all Starbucks: A proposal

However a little warning about Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee: It is possible that the price point will turn some folks off. Today, for example, I had a “short” Jamaica Blue Mountain from the Clover, and it was $4.25 for a short.  That is an eight-ounce cup of black coffee for $4.25.   As with ALL of the small batch coffees by Starbucks, they are only sold in half-pound sizes. This coffee retails for $40 for a half-pound.

Here’s a little information about this coffee:  It is shipped to roasters in barrels rather than traditional burlap bags.  This coffee has distinct citrus chocolate notes.  The flavor of citrus is pronounced in it, and when I drink I definitely can detect a very clean “sparkle” to it which reminds me of something like the sparkle that “Bella Vista” coffee is famous for.  Starbucks says that complementary flavors for this coffee are nuts, citrus, baking spices, and chocolate.

The coffee is grown in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica at elevations up to 5000 feet.  It is processed by a “washed” method of processing.  For those who do not know, there are three methods of coffee processing: (1) Washed (2) Semi Washed and (3) Sun Dried.  Let me make clear that when we talk about this “coffee processing” method, at this point I am specifically referring to method used by the farmer to remove the coffee cherry (the soft part of it) from the hard coffee bean inside.  Think of the coffee bean like a peanut: two halves that split apart, but covered in a soft cherry.

Washed coffee processing

When a coffee is processed by a “washed” method (also called the “wet” method), the farmer pours all the cherries into de-pulping machine to remove the softest part of the cherry: all the cherry skin and the majority of the cherry fruit is removed.  Think of it like pressing the cherries through some kind of large plates with just the bean coming out at one end.  At the other end of the de-pulping machine the farmer collects the soft skin and fruit of the cherry.  On many farms, this skin and fruit will later be used as compost on the farm.

In the “washed” method, next the coffee beans (now with a small amount of soft fruit on them as well as a somewhat sticky mucilage that surrounds the hard bean) are poured into moving channels of water which literally “wash” the beans free of the remaining soft substance surrounding the coffee bean.  The beans are now dried, usually in the sunshine, and then placed into burlap bags (or in this case barrels) for transport to the coffee buyer.

In a previous blog post I wrote heavily about the “semi washed” processing method.  I recommend that you read it again to compare the processing methods:

The Magic of Sumatra and Aged Sumatra

Unfortunately I do not have a blog post where I talk in detail about “sun dried” processing method.  Once again, the three methods of processing the coffee (meaning the steps used to remove the soft cherry from the hard coffee bean inside the cherry) are (1) “Wash” (2) “Semi wash” and (3) “Sun Dried”.

Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee tasting

Turning back to the small coffee event on June 28th, it took place at the First and Pike Starbucks, which happens to be a store that has been featured numerous times in this blog.  It’s a “showcase” store for Starbucks, and the place of many coffee education opportunities.  Our barista, who made us the Clover cups of Jamaica Blue Mountain, was “Jeremy,” who coincidentally has been a star barista in this blog before!

Here’s a previous blog post featuring barista-Jeremy at First and Pike:

Coffee tasting: Three Region Blend

And now for fun, a few more photos from the beautiful First and Pike Starbucks, and of our barista Jeremy hard at work at the Clover making our coffee:

The boring legal part of the blog

The FTC has an amazing long and complex regulatory scheme governing bloggers and “endorsements” and “advertisers”.  What it boils down to (as far as I can tell) is that Starbucks has an obligation to remind me to tell you that I got something free from them, and I have an obligation to tell you that I received free product or services related to this blog post.  In summary, “StarbucksMelody” received free product or services in connection with this blog post. Ahem. I got a half pound of coffee and the chance to schmooze with a PR person from  the Starbucks headquarters and a coffee-department person from the Starbucks headquarters.  Also the FTC says that I can’t knowingly make any false statements in this blog post.  So while I am so enthusiastic about this coffee that I want to tell you that it tastes amazing, crisp, has a clean finish in the mouth and cures periodontitis, … ah well, you’re smart enough to see the problem in that statement … Yes, this coffee tastes amazing, crisp, and has a clean finish in the mouth.  And as always, don’t forget to brush and floss and visit your dentist regularly.