Jamaica’s small but once fruitful coffee industry has been struggling lately, as coffee farms are overgrown with pests and brush, and as farmers struggle to make a living.
“We used to make a living, but now we’re working hungry,” Colin McLaren, a coffee farmer in Jamaica’s wild eastern mountains, told the Associated Press in a recent report. “It’s tough and getting tougher.”
Jamaican coffee beans, grown on patches of land throughout the Blue Mountains, are known by many consumers for a complex, rich flavor, and in recent years, roasted Jamaican beans have been fetching upwards of $40 in the U.S. market. But the report attributes some of Jamaica’s coffee struggles to the reliance on the Japanese market, which has generally consumed less Blue Mountain coffee in recent years. The report also suggests that due to local and global economic struggles, the cost of tending coffee farms doubled between 2005 and 2009.
“Consumers really have to watch their budgets, and Blue Mountain coffee is an expensive brand,” Toyohide Nishino, executive director of the All Japan Coffee Association, told the Associated Press. “So instead of Blue Mountain, coffee from Colombia and Brazil is more popular these days.”
Additionally troubling is the potential for the berry borer to wipe out a significant portion of this year’s Jamaican coffee crop, numerous sources said in the report.
The full story: Associated Press