Steps in Blue Mountain Coffee Production
Step 1: Careful Germination
The first step in the cultivation process is the careful nurturing of the plants themselves. The seeds are planted by hand, in specially certified Blue Mountain Coffee nurseries where great care and attention is given to each seedling.
Step 2: Transplantation of Trees
It is not until the 10th month that the seedlings are transplanted, after which, it then takes a minimum three (3) years before they begin producing coffee berries. Throughout this entire period, the plant is given meticulous care and attention, to ensure they grow strong, healthy and disease-free.
Step 3: Picking of Berries
The coffee harvesting process involves meticulously verifying the quality of every berry by hand. The handpicked red berries are floated in water on the farm. The floated berries are then discarded if they have underdeveloped beans or insect damage. As the berries ripen at different times on the same tree, a close eye is kept on each tree to ensure that the berries are harvested at precisely the right moment.
Step 4: Pulping
Once the selected berries are taken to the factory, they are placed in large holding tanks and thoroughly inspected to eliminate any overly fermented, green, or insect infested berries. The berries are then washed to remove the mucilage, a sugary substance on the outer section of the bean. The product left after washing is a creamy, brown bean known as the wet parchment.
Step 5: Sun Drying
The drying process involves getting the moisture in the beans to specific levels. The wet parchment is placed on large concrete slabs called barbeques where they are sun dried until the moisture content of the beans reach 10.5%-11.5%. This process takes up to five (5) days depending on sunlight conditions. During this time detailed inspections of the coffee beans are made to ensure only top-quality beans make it through.
Step 6: Resting
The next step is the resting period. The dried parchment is bagged and warehoused for approximately three (3) months. This is a significant step as the beans develop certain unique characteristics during this process.
Step 7: Hulling
Once the beans have rested they are ready for hulling. This involves the removal of the outer shell or ‘husk’ presenting the world-famous green bean. After hulling, the bean is polished to remove the silver skin on the outer layer.
Step 8: Sorting
All beans are sorted by size and density based on certain specific characteristics verified by the Coffee Division of the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA). The beans are graded according to size: Grade I, Grade II, Grade III, and Peaberry beans (a monocotyledonous, or closed bean). The Peaberry and Grade I beans are usually considered the highest quality beans.
Step 9: Cupping and Final Inspection
All beans are blind taste tested (cupped) against stringent requirements regarding taste, body, and color. A final inspection, done by hand, is conducted whereby each bean is further examined to eliminate any defect.
Step 10: Shipping
The approved Blue Mountain green beans are packed into barrels made from Aspen wood. Each barrel is sized for net weight of either 15, 30, or 70 Kilogram for export. The barrels are sealed and ICO-marked with a unique number shown on the documents including the Certificate of Origin. Additionally, the shipping marks of the registered exporter and official importer are stenciled on to the barrels of each shipping lot.