Starbucks to sell Jamaica high mountain coffee in local cafés

S tarbucks plans to introduce Jamaica high mountain coffee in local stores, a less pricey bean grown in a key region outside the famous Blue Mountains.
Experts say it will nudge coffee exports and raise the profile of high mountain coffee, but is unlikely to increase bean sales in any significant way. Starbucks roasts beans at its centralised locations, with most being processed in Seattle. It will import the high mountain beans sourced from local suppliers, process them and then re-export the roasted coffee to Jamaica.
“It will widen the net,” said Ian Dear, a director of Caribbean Coffee Traders Limited, CCTL, which holds the exclusive rights to own and operate Starbucks stores in Jamaica and select Caribbean countries.
“High mountain focuses on opening up a new category of coffee for consumption,” he said.
Jamaica’s coffee market has been underperforming both in export earnings and volume production in recent years. The latest industry data published in the Economic and Social Survey for 2018 reported volume production for non-Blue Mountain coffee at 750 tonnes, down 4.3 per cent from the year before and shy of the five-year high of 849 tonnes.
Total coffee output, inclusive of Blue Mountain cherry, was 7,085 tonnes in 2018, up nearly 14 per cent, but coffee exports fell by around 25 per cent to US$14.9 million – inflows that are less than half the US$30 million-plus that the beans once fetched in foreign markets.
There are nine Starbucks stores in Jamaica, with a tenth soon to open. Dear said CCTL operates six locations in Jamaica with a seventh location to open in Kingston, while Express Catering Limited, of which he is a shareholder, operates three locations at Sangster International Airport. The other CCTL locations are in Ocho Rios, Trelawny, Kingston, and Montego Bay.

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