Jamaican Blue Mountain from Kaya Imports
Posted March 5, 2001 6:35pm
Jamie Gripton, owner of Kaya Imports (located in New Brunswick, Canada) recently sent some Jamaican Blue Mountain (JBM) my way. Gripton is the sole importer of Alex Twyman's Old Tavern Estate JBM in Canada, and has gone through a lot of loops and circles to get it stocked. He is teaming up with Terry Montague, (email only) an alt.coffee regular and owner of Down East Coffee in New Brunswick to provide the roasted version of this bean.
Before I begin, I have to preface my comments by saying that my personal belief is that JBM is overrated as a bean. It is a cache item, luxury item, much like how Ralph Lauren Polo, or Tommy Hilfilgre clothing is priced substantially more than, say Costco polo shirts, yet both are of comparable quality. Also, noted experts in the field (Ken Davids, for example) bemoan the sad fall in quality of JBM overall from 15 years ago, when it was the true gem of the coffee world. Perhaps overproduction, perhaps poor grading, who knows, but according to the experts, the quality in the cup is not what it was a couple of decades ago. Still, I recognize that JBM has fans, sometimes fervent fans, and people are willing to pay top dollar for this bean.
That said, let's move on to the review. Gripton provided me with three samplings of the Old Tavern JBM - a roasted batch from Montague, and two 83 gram green samples for my own roasting. I also had some Wallenford Estate JBM in the house that I purchased on my own from another online source, and I compared to two types.
The Old Tavern is similar to the Wallenford I've already tried. It has a a nice nutty flavor that I haven't really tasted in other beans (other than the Wallenford). The acidity is medium, not too harsh, but not too bright either. There are some sweet notes in the taste, especially in the finish. While I prefer Kona when it comes to the "premium" beans on the market, I have to say Kona doesn't hold a candle to JBM for espresso. The Old Tavern, straight up for espresso, the day after roasting, is probably in my top 3 or 4 beans for espresso. It had a nice zing, a fairly smooth finish, and lingered for quite a while on the tastebuds, in a generally good way.
The nuttyness of the bean was good. Normally I don't like overly "nutty" flavors, but the Old Tavern JBM had a pretty unique one. Espresso'ed against the Wallenford, I would say Old Tavern comes up slightly higher in favour. In fact, I made a god-shot with this JBM, which is partially due to the beans, but also partially due to perfect prep situations -
In filter drip and vac pot, Old Tavern doesn't hold up against my current champeen, Kona, but remember - this is a taste issue, which is highly personal. Still, I would rate it probably in the top five of my single varietal beans tried in these brewing methods. Maybe 3rd or 4th, after Kona, Yemen Mocha Raimi, and sort of tied with Costa Rica Tarrazu.
On the subject of pricing, Gripton send some "Internet Only" pricing to me with the package to pass along. The prices are very good, considering it is JBM, and also considering that Old Tavern is one of the higher-priced JBMs around. Roasted is the website listed price of $50 a lb Canadian (about $32.50 USD), but green is an unlisted $39 a lb., or $20 per half pound. $20 isn't a lot of money to at least give JBM a shot, and like I said above, many feel that JBM is the epitome of coffee - so don't just take my words as gospel.
Lastly, it is important to note that, out of several different JBMs sampled by Ken Davids in a recent review online, Davids rated Old Tavern as the highest of all of them, giving it 10 extra points against the current Wallenford crop. Try the coffee out - visit Kaya Imports and when you email, mention to Jamie Gripton you read about the green pricing here and he'll provide you with that pricing.
HomeRoasting Section gets updated
A section of this website that hasn't been updated since 1999 got a massive overhaul recently. Check out the home roasting section under "Obsessions". I have updated most of the pages, added mini reviews of three of the most common purpose-built roasters available today, and other assorted snippets.
Along with the update goes a lot of stuff you probably won't even notice if you are using a 5.x or newer browser (Opera 5.0 is now free, so no excuses - a nice 2mb download, and runs on a 486!). I've been stripping out all font tags and running the look of the pages with CSS files. This should reduce the size of most pages on this site by about 10, 15%, which results in faster download times. It also lets me change the look and feel of the whole site with one file, once the upgrade is done.
Till next time, thanks for stopping by!