Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority

Coffee Division

Officer in Charge of this Division: Senior Director of Coffee - Hervin Willis (hwillis@jacra.org)

The functions of JACRA embrace the setting of Quality Standards, provision of Quality Assurance and Certification Services and generally focus on governing the trading in the Coffee industry in Jamaica.


The Regulatory Body for coffee in Jamaica was established via the Coffee Industry Regulatory Act of 1948 to:

  • Encourage development of Jamaican coffee industry
  • Promote the welfare of persons engaged in industry
  • Protect quality of Jamaican coffee
  • Be sole Exporter of green beans from Jamaica to the world

Between 1948 and 2000 the Regulatory Institution was involved in:

  • Coffee Production
  • Purchase Cherry Coffee
  • Largest Processor/Seller of Coffee
  • Provide Extension and Advisory Services
  • Sole Exporter of Green Coffee Beans

Regulating the industry

  • Licensing of other processors and handlers of coffee
  • Establish Quality Standard for Coffee
  • Certify Coffee for Export

After the formal deregulation of the Coffee Industry in Jamaica, the Regulatory Body in the year 2000 was left with the sole role of conducting regulatory functions which include:

  • Licensing of processors and Dealers of coffee
  • Establish/Review Quality Standard for coffee
  • Certify Coffee for Export and Sole Exporter of Green Coffee Beans
  • Provide Advisory Services to Farmers and Other Industry Stakeholders

The Regulatory Body attained ISO 9001:2008 certification and has utilized the Standard to emphasize a systems approach to management, continual improvement and a mutually beneficial supplier relationship. This certification system, which has been upgraded to ISO 9001: 2015, will be carried in the new regulatory body to the coffee division.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil with consumption reporting to be about half a trillion cups per year (International Coffee Organization).


It is an important industry in many countries for its contribution to socio-economic development and contribution to GDP. Coffee cultivation in Jamaica takes place in the Blue Mountain region (St. Thomas, St. Andrew and Portland) and the Jamaica High Mountain region (sections of all other parishes). Jamaica’s coffee is regarded as a gourmet product and as such does not trade on the Commodities Exchanges in New York or London.

The Regulatory Body through a holding company known as Coffee Marks was the owner of the two existing registered Trade Marks in Jamaica Blue Mountain® and Jamaica High Supreme Mountain®. There is also another registered Trade Mark known as Jamaica Blue. This Trade Mark however, is exclusively registered to Foodco, an Australian company.

According to the ICO Jamaica is ranked 45th in world coffee production. Production figures for the Jamaica High Mountain region from 1953 to 2017 show an average annual production of 188, 532.25 boxes per year (1 box equals 62 lbs cherry coffee).

However, production figures for the last ten years, 2007 to 2017 show an average of 54,734.20, while the average production for the five year period 2012 to 2017 show 26,752.40 boxes.

In the Jamaica Blue Mountain region where coffee production began in 1960 the 57 year average production shows 169,713.18 boxes. While the last ten years average show 301,337.9 boxes and the last five year show 207,31.8 boxes.

Given the declining fortunes of the Jamaica High Mountain coffee production, in particular over the last ten years, operators who are involve in the roasting and blending sector, initially, particularly for the hospitality sector, have resorted to imports to substitute the fall in production.

However, a trend has been established where green bean importation has long surpassed the equivalence of cherry coffee production. It is for the reason of stimulating local coffee production in the Jamaica High Mountain region that the government has instituted a policy in November 2017 where any coffee that is roasted and packaged for sale in Jamaica MUST have at least 20 percent Jamaican coffee in its composition. (NB: equipment support necessary here).

The Importance of Coffee to the Jamaican Economy

Four categories of licences exist in the coffee industry as follows:

  • Coffee Dealers - They buy cherry coffee, process it and sell green coffee beans. The main pre-requisite is that they must have a farm producing 6000 boxes of cherry coffee or more.
  • Special Coffee Dealers - These stakeholders trade in roasted coffee beans or ground coffee.
  • Coffee Works – These stakeholders convert green beans into roasted coffee and other coffee products, particularly through roasting. Whilst some Coffee Processors are the processors of coffee berries.
  • Foreign Importers - These are companies who have been authorized to trade in coffee (JBM & JHMS) and operate outside of Jamaica.

See Licences.

Coffee Licences

Jamaica’s coffee has become a very attractive product for exploit because of its very appealing intrinsic qualities and general low production. This makes it a limited commodity on the commercial market but one with great customer appeal.

This has resulted in numerous brand infringements both locally and overseas. The Regulatory Institution has had to engage the services of the law firm Joyce Thrasher with Allen Greenburg as the principal lawyer. Through this effort the institution/law firm have had to issue cease and desist letters, obtained court injunction and established taskforce with an effort to better police the country’s prized product.

Brand Infringement - Local and International

The dominant coffee variety being propagated in the Jamaica coffee industry is the Arabica Typica. It is commonly referred to as “the cup quality of the Arabica Typica” as it is superior to that of the other Arabica varieties.

Typica however, is not a heavy producer as some of the other varieties. The key characteristic about the Arabica Typica is its fine cup quality which makes it one the best coffee in the world.

The Arabica Typica coffee however, is quite susceptible to many diseases affecting coffee, chief of them the coffee leaf rust disease.

The Regulatory Body through the Advisory Department and Quality Assurance arm of the Certification Department have collaborated with external institutions such as IICA, the UWI, PROMECAFE, World Coffee Research and the University of Purdue, among others to carry out a number of different activities with the aim of combating this dreaded disease.

To date there is a variety trials being carried out on two farms, one in the Blue Mountain region and the other in the Jamaica High Mountain region.

Additionally, there is an early warning system project being executed with collaboration from the Met Office, The UWI, the University of Arizona, the University of Colombia, and IICA to provide forecasted climate information to farmers and extension personnel so as to generate quick responses from the agronomic information provided by the Regulatory Institution.

A farm registration is in progress to ensure that there is a strong database in place for to provide for the sustainable development of the coffee industry through expansion of acreage, better understanding of the demography, financing, insurance against wind, rainfall and fire. This registration project is being supported by the International Finance Corporation.

The Regulatory Institution also carried out monitoring of warehouses to do inventory checks especially now as the 20 percent local coffee requirement is a necessity. Its officers also monitor wet mills in order to ensure their proper function thus ensure that bean quality is not negatively impacted.

The nursery policy which seeks to guide the way nurseries operate in order to adequately regulate and monitor the varieties which are cultivated is in an advance stage of preparation and will be submitted shortly to the board of directors for discussion and ratification.

Variety Monitoring

Monitoring of Roasted Coffee in the Local Trade

The Regulatory Body monitored the quality of the roasted coffee on the local shelves a maximum of four (4) times per year. This coffee is not taken to the Regulatory Facilities for quality assessment prior to being offered for sale. However all roasters are advised on the quality of beans to be used in the various roasted or value-added coffee products.

Other Monitoring

As sole exporter of Jamaican coffee the Regulatory Authority has followed a strict policy of adhering to food safety regulations both locally and internationally. In this regard the Authority has contracted the Chemistry Department at University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona to provide support in the analysis of pesticide residues in green coffee bean for export.

This assessment enables all stakeholders to have an understanding of status of all shipment of coffee with regards to the minimum residue levels (MRL) before that coffee is actually exported.

Given the adherence to good agricultural practices established by the Advisory Department and hence the subsequent low levels of pesticides being found in tested green beans a decision was agreed upon by the testing body and the regulatory body for one in every three shipments for each entity to be submitted for testing at the UWI.

Food Safety - Pesticide Residue Analysis

World Coffee Research/PROMECAFE funded variety assessment/improvement project. This involves approximately twenty five (25) coffee varieties being cultivated in Jamaica as well as all coffee producing countries for assessment of adaptability, disease resistance and cup characteristics. Two plots are being monitored locally.

Early Warning System for the monitoring of the Coffee Leaf Rust disease.

Surveillance working programme with PROMECAFE against the dreaded Coffee Berry Disease.

Measurement and calculation of the environmental impact involve in the production and exportation of coffee from the approach of the coffee life cycle using the methodology of Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) under the heading of Product Category Rules-PCR. This is in conjunction with CEPAL/PROMECAFE.

Farm registration for the determination of the location, acreage and farmers involved in coffee production in Jamaica. This project is being financed by the Regulatory Authority, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA).

The assessment, through DNA, of the different strains of coffee leaf rust fungus affecting the local coffee sector and the possible location from which these strains may have arisen. This project being collaborated on by IICA, the University of Purdue and the Regulatory Authority.

Intelligent coffee variety study through DNA, of the various coffee varieties and their distribution across the island. This project awaits the identification of funding as the IFC which funded the initial phase is still assessing the possibility of going forward.

Rehabilitation of the coffee warehouse. This project has been approved for an estimated cost of J$40M to be funded by MICAF from the sale of Wallenford Coffee Company ltd. The contractor has been selected, project documents signed and the mobilization fund disbursed by MICAF to the regulatory body’s account. Transfer of said funds to the contractor’s account should take place the week of January 15, 2018.

Studies for the establishment of a coffee training institute, which would encompass the certification of the cup testing panel of the regulatory cup testers, who would then lead the way as certified trainers for the industry stakeholders, including coffee shop personnel, coffee makers in hotels, restaurants etc.

Outstanding Projects