Ralph goes Mocha-loca


Ralph goes Mocha-loca


Thursday, January 14, 2021

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Jamaica's capital city has come along way since businessman Patrick Sibblies opened the Coffee Mill on Barbados Avenue, circa 1999, and ventured overseas, moving the business to China in 2006. Based on the amount of coffee locations in the Corporate Area it might be reasonable to deduce that Jamaicans have become certified java lovers. Locals are not drinking enough, however. A recent survey, according to Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters' Association, indicates 0.25 kg per person per year compared to up to 12 kg per person per year in other countries. (Still, we reckon the late principal of Old Tavern Coffee Estate Alex Twyman's face would crease in a smile to see his son David and granddaughter Ava popping into Cannonball Café for a flat white. He would nevertheless scold Thursday Food habitues for daring to flavour his coffee with condensed milk!)

Meanwhile Grant, whose association represents 5,000 coffee farmers and 102,000 coffee farm families, is resolute about returning Blue Mountain Coffee to its former glory. He's, thankfully, not alone! Equally enthused are the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Jamaica Promotions Company (Jampro), and their overseas mission and the All Japan Importers of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, who joined forces to celebrate the third anniversary of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day on Saturday, January, 9, 2021.

This celebration came against the anniversary of the date when the largest shipment of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee left the port of Kingston to Tokyo, Japan, on January 9, 1967, following the first direct shipment from Jamaica to Japan in the 1950s by the late politico Keble Munn, then of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory.

The beans planted over the last 67 years are long perked and now pour 70 per cent in Japan, 20 per cent to the United States and 10 per cent in Europe and the rest of the world.

This year's celebration, according to Grant, is further amplified “in light of unprecedented challenges experienced by our members, farmers, partners and other stakeholders, caused by the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also created a new normal. The coffee sector last year experienced decline in the value added and roasted business, which saw reduction in sales of approximately 90 per cent due to the closing down of the country and the tourism sector. This resulted in an overstocking of our inventory of approximately 750, 000 pounds of coffee valuing an estimated $1 billion”.

The plan post-Saturday's celebrations of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day (#JBMCoffeeDay), Grant disclosed, is to intensify the JCEA's efforts and marketing strategy to preserve and grow existing markets, find new markets globally, and to launch a local campaign to create a coffee-drinking culture in Jamaica.

Thursday Food in support of the initiative sipped the world's best coffee at Café Blue, Constant Spring Rd; Cannonball Café, Sovereign North; Jablum Coffee House, Oxford Road; Ragamuffin Hostel & Coffee Bar, 74 Lady Musgrave Rd; and at Blue Mahoe Estate Cafe, 30 Haining Road.

Café Blue Constant Spring Rd

This is Café Blue's newest location, and a fitting kick-off to the day's activities. Special guests Rushane “Rushcam” Campbell, Kaci Fennell Shirley, and Rohan “Quite Perry” Perry participated in a friendly coffee-making competition with Café Blue managing director and coffee connoisseur Jason Sharp as judge. Sharp said the #JBMCoffeeDay activities which took place in-house were important and allowed influencers the opportunity to make a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee from scratch while learning about Jamaica's rich coffee history.

Cannonball Café Sovereign North

Co-principal Laura Matalon-Chandley celebrates Coffee Day every day! The contemporary, but cosy spot located at Sovereign North is described as a home away from home, and we definitely got that vibe as the patrons spotted on #JBMCoffeeDay were all a part of the coffee shop's faithful clientele. The trio of influencers taste-tested the limited-edition coffee beverages, part-proceeds of which assist the Montego Bay Animal Haven.

Jablum Coffee House, Oxford Road

The Jablum Coffee House experience was infused with a shot of Hollywood royalty courtesy of Hollywood A-lister Ralph, who went live on social media from the coffee house's Oxford Road address. New, faster, less expensive coffee options from Jablum were also added to the already extensive product line-up as the brand looks to the future.

Ragamuffin Hostel & Coffee Bar

While the regular caffeinated beverages like the Iced Latte and the Oreo Frappuccino remained top choices for #JBMCoffeeDay, the Cascara tea — a tasty infusion found somewhere at the intersection of coffee and tea — was the order of the day when the Thursday Food team stopped by. Cascara, also known as coffee cherry tea, is made from the dried husk of the coffee fruit and, while not a classified as a coffee beverage, is still strong enough to afford a gentle caffeine kick.

Blue Mahoe Estate Cafe

The tour ended with the newest coffee shop of the bunch. But, though the Blue Mahoe Estate Cafe is new on the block, its proprietors have years of experience in the coffee business. The family-run business is helmed by Lloyd Tomlinson, his wife Sonia, and their children Shaun and Leana. And with coffee spots popping up all over, what gives Blue Mahoe Estate Cafe bragging rights is the ability to stand behind a product they've harvested and reaped themselves. All coffee products at the cafe are made with 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee cultivated at the family farm and processed at the only processing factory in West Portland. The result: Rich, flavourful coffee!

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