JP’s premier Jamaican trade: coffee
While Jamaica Producers (JP) has its roots in the banana trade and diversified into a wide host of businesses, coffee remains an important commodity for the company.
Coffee is especially big business in Jamaica, given worldwide demand for the beans that are grown in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains.
The best lots of Blue Mountain coffee are noted for their mild flavor and lack of bitterness. Over the past few decades, this coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. Over 80% of all Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan.
This is the case for JP. JP’s biggest market for its coffee business is Japan. “It’s a market on which we are much focused,” says Jamaica Producers Group CEO Jeffrey Hall in an exclusive interview with this AJOT reporter. In fact, 70% of JP’s coffee is sold to Japan.
The reason: the Japanese like specialty coffees. “They have a strong tradition of drinking this coffee there,” Hall says. “It’s sold in Japan’s premium department stores.”
The coffee is expensive. Processing the coffee is very labor intensive.
JP buys its coffee from 4,000 coffee Jamaica farmers. “We have 80 outlets from which we collect the coffee and bring it to our depot where we process and sort it,” Hall explains.
Not only are the coffee beans sun dried, once processed the coffee is shipped to Japan in handmade wooden barrels—exactly the way JP has been doing it for 80 years. “It’s very high cost to us, but that’s the business,” he says.