Jamaica Blue Mountain (December 2016)
Jamaica Blue Mountain is launching in Starbucks Reserve stores everywhere in February 2017. It appeared on the scoop bar at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle on Monday, December 26, 2016.
There is a lot to know about this coffee. Did you know that once upon a time the coffee farmers would ship this coffee to Starbucks in big wooden barrells? It now comes in burlap sacks, like other green coffee.
This is a fully-washed coffee. And it truly is very washed and clean. Sometimes when coffees arrive at the Roastery, there is still some coffee chaff (the dried skin, or husk) which comes off during the roasting process. I talked to one of the roasters at the Roastery about and he says it's one the cleanest coffees he's encountered. It's not just "wash processed". It's "very washed processed!"
The roaster roasts this coffee at about 11 and a half to 12 and a half minutes, roughly. Here's the freshly roasted coffee and a side by side comparison:
This coffee is a medium roast. In fact, it's almost right in the middle of the medium roast spectrum. In the word of Starbucks coffees, Willow Blend is the lightest roast profile, and French Roast is the darkest. All the other core coffees fall between this spectrum. Near the absolute center of the Starbucks roast spectrum is House Blend, and then perhaps Yukon Blend as just a touch darker than House.
When this year's Jamaica Blue Mountain is ground for brewing, it will appear to be very close in color to House Blend, putting it near the center of the Starbucks roast spectrum. The beans themselves might look a little deceptively darker than House. But if you take a Jamaica Blue Mountain bean, break it open and take a very close look, you'll notice that the center often looks slightly lighter than the outside. The coffee, likely due to its high moisture content, roasts a little unevenly.
The flavor descriptors for this coffee are citrus and cocoa, and complementary flavors are chocolate and oranges. In my opinion, this year's Jamaica Blue Mountain is a little more chocolate-y than last year's.
The story of the coffee is that it is named after the mist that casts a blue-tinged glow over the Jamaican mountainside, and this coffee is grown beneath the peak of the 7,400-foot Blue Ridge. The dew, along with plentiful rainfall and fertile soil, helps create ideal growing conditions. After the harvest, the beans are scrutinized and certified to ensure their high quality. The result: a complex cup with layers of citrus flavor and a hint of cocoa.
The beautiful Reserve tasting card for this coffee is designed to represents the receding blue mountains and to celebrates the landscape and blue mist where this coffee is grown. It's a literal interpretation of the amazing geography of the Jamaican mountainside.
Starbucks sourced this round of Jamaica Blue Mountain from five different farms. All were so extremely close in taste profile that it could be used together to launch Jamaica Blue Mountain: All were the same varietal, all grown in the same climate, all of the farms were close to each other. I don't know the names of all 5 farms, but I do know that one of them is the "Amber" estate. However, when roasted each farm's lot is roasted separately. So it is possible that you might pick up a bag of Jamaica Blue Mountain and get one from one estate and another bag that is from a different estate. If you could possibly tell the difference, you have an excellent palate: One of the roasters I talked to about this thought that he wasn't even sure he could tell the difference between the 5 farms Jamaica Blue Mountain lots.
This coffee retails for $34.50 for an 8 ounce bag at the Roastery. It will launch in February 2017 in Reserve stores in North America, and will also at some point have a China-Asia-Pacific market launch too. This coffee is not coming the Starbucks Europe market.