Coffee Varieties: Blue Mountain

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is known throughout the world. As it turns out Blue Mountain is its own coffee variety although the same coffee is called PNG Gold in Papua New Guinea and Boyo in Cameroon. Aside from its lack of bitterness this coffee is derived from typica and has some natural resistance to coffee berry disease.

Tipica Coffees

Tipica originated in Yemen and is the forbearer of many sub varieties in use today.

Coffee varieties are the subspecies of coffee that occur by natural selection and by selective breeding. Disease resistance, yield and flavor vary from variety to variety. Variety or breed selection is critical to the planter as he or she must pick the optimal variety for altitude, sun or shade, soil conditions and climate. Regarding coffee varieties here are a couple of terms:

Variety: A variety is a smaller group than a subspecies and a larger group than a form. A variety has most of the characteristics of the species but differs in specific ways.

Cultivar: This is a cultivated variety and is developed using agricultural breeding techniques. The coffee in your cup is most likely a cultivar. Two common cultivars are Bourbon and Typica.


Typica is an old coffee variety and the father of numerous sub-varieties. Typica came from Yemen. Dutch traders carried it to Malabar, India and later on to Indonesia. Subsequently Typica arrived at the French colony of Martinique in the West Indies. Natural selection and breeding have produced the following new varieties:

Criollo (South America)

Arabigo (Americas)

Kona (Hawaii)

Pluma Hidalgo (Mexico)

Garundang (Sumatra)Blue Mountain (Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Cameroon)

San Bernado & San Ramon (Brazil)

Kents & Chickumalgu (India)

The end result of years of development is the mild, flavorful and famous Blue Mountain coffee variety as well as Kona coffee from Hawaii.


Kona coffee is also a typica coffee and equally as famous as Blue Mountain.

Organic Kona coffee is grown on mountainous slopes on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona coffee benefits from mild weather and moist growing conditions as well as the volcanic soil of the Hawaiian Islands. Because of its scarcity as well as its quality Kona coffee is one of the world’s most expensive coffees. Organic Kona coffee is therefore rarer and somewhat more expensive. Coffee was first grown in the Hawaiian Island in the early 19 th century from cuttings brought form Brazil. The Kona brand itself dates back to the 19 th century and an Englishman, Henry Nicholas Greenwell. Although Hawaiian coffee was first grown on large plantations a crash in the worldwide coffee market in 1899 led owners to lease or sell land to their workers. This started a tradition of family operated coffee farms of five to twelve acres. The fact that families continue to grow on the same land has led to the tradition of sustainable coffee growing that is the hallmark of growing healthy organic coffee.

Both Kona and Blue Mountain have their adherents and both are great coffees.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica has become a sought after and expensive coffee. Eighty percent of this coffee is exported to Japan. In Jamaica, in order to be Blue Mountain coffee, it has to be grown between 3000 and 5000 feet. Anything above or below that altitude is not Blue Mountain coffee despite coming from the same coffee variety!

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