Best coffee in the world
Updated: 2006-08-21 14:27

If you are wondering if the best coffee in the world can be found in Shanghai, then look no further than the Tongmao Hotel.

The Coffee Mill of Jamaica on the Pudong hotel's ground floor is said to be the first company from the Caribbean to operate locally.

The Jamaican coffee chain was established in 1986 by Patrick Sibbles, CEO of Coffee Industries Limited. The company is considered experts in the handling and preparation of the finest coffee beans from the island nation.

The Shanghai store opened at the end of March and is the fourth outlet in the chain and first outside of Jamaica.

With a motto of "Come ... taste the legacy," the brand hopes to bring the enjoyment of good quality, genuine Jamaican coffee to Shanghai java lovers.

Jamaica is famous for its Blue Mountain coffee, grown on the eastern end of the island. With plantations at 1,800 meters above sea level, the coffee beans benefit from the high altitude and the cool climate of the Blue Mountain Forest.

The result is a bean that is given longer time to ripen, producing a deeper, sweeter flavor. The beans themselves are distinctively smaller compared to most traditional beans, allowing for faster, more uniform roasting.

Jamaica currently trades about US$30 million worth of coffee per annum. This may be less than other exports such as sugar, rum and textiles, but the country is still synonymous with high-quality coffee.

The availability of this outstanding product is the result of close co-operation between the Chinese and Jamaican governments. Local official trade bodies assisted the Jamaicans with the know-how to start their local venture.

What started as discussion in the meeting rooms has now manifested itself as a brick and mortar store in the Songlin Road hotel, serving guests and nearby residents with top-notch, 100 percent authentic Blue Mountain coffee.

Authenticity is a concern when it comes to Blue Mountain products. Spring Liu, a lawyer with Guangsheng and Partners, is responsible for the coffee chain's legal handling. He explained that not all places that claim to serve Blue Mountain coffee are actually selling the real thing.

"Investigations have shown that when you ask (service staff) if what they are selling is really Jamaican Blue Mountain, 99 percent of the time the coffee is not authentic, but rather Jamaican style," he said.

This identification issue is currently being addressed.

Rohan Williams, manager of the Coffee Mill's local operations, said that the Jamaican Tourist Board was working on a new type of seal that will be harder to counterfeit and guarantees that the powder within is the real McCoy.

Blue Mountain coffee is exported in a powdered form. The beans are harvested and roasted in Jamaica and shipped by individual distributors such as Sibbles' firm.

The Coffee Mill sells this powder in its store in small boxes for 50 yuan (US$6.25), enough for six cups of coffee. These boxes are also placed in each hotel room, giving guests superb coffee on demand.

The cafe is also perfect for enjoying a freshly-made cup. The store was designed by Sibbles himself, and features the same heavy wood furniture that can be found in every outlet back in Jamaica. The room is airy and naturally lit and makes for a relaxed meeting place.

The coffee was everything it promised to be. The aroma of the cappucino (90 yuan) was pronounced and fragrant, the taste full and sweet. The same quality was found in the ice-cold mocha frost (95 yuan), perfect for the novice drinker and for hot summer days.

For java lovers, the Coffee Mill of Jamaica is worth visiting for what can be described as close to the perfect drop. What also stands out is the close relationship between the Chinese and Jamaican people, and a desire to share a national treasure with a new audience.

Address: G/F, 357 Songlin Road, Tongmao Hotel
Tel: 6840-5002