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Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival this weekend

 The tourism ministry has kicked off a series of events this year, aimed at promoting the island’s gastronomy industry, with the first annual staging of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival in Newcastle, St Andrew.
The festival, which started on Friday, with a workshop for coffee farmers, will end on Sunday.

Saturday’s trade day, the highlight of the festival, will feature over 40, exhibitor booths, food demonstrations, a barista competition and opportunities to purchase coffee products. Those interested, are invited to utilise a shuttle service from University of Technology in Papine to the venue at New Castle, beginning at 10 am.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s event will promote the Blue Mountain Culinary Trail, with 13 restaurants and attractions.

Speaking with Loop News, Chairman of the Gastronomy Network Nicola Madden-Greig, said the festival, which is targeting locals and tourists alike - will promote the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, the Blue Mountain as a UNESCO heritage site along with a host of other experiences unique to the area.

“It’s really a cultural experience, showcasing all there is in the Blue Mountain, both from the side of coffee, which we know is the best coffee in the world and also the various culinary experiences, the restaurants, the bars the cafes along Blue Mountain Trail,” Madden-Greig said.

The gastronomy tourism network project, started with the official launch of Devon House as Jamaica’s first gastronomy centre last year.

“Kingston was our first focus in terms of pushing the island as a gastronomy destination. We will be having a similar focus in Montego Bay and are also looking at the south coast and Portland,” Madden-Greig indicated.

The ministry is also working on the Taste Jamaica and mobile application, which will curate all the culinary experiences across Jamaica.

“So it’s really encouraging Jamaicans to see how wonderful our food is, to come up with new and creative ways of producing our food,” Madden-Greig said.

She went on to explain that millions of people travel all throughout the world for culinary experiences.

“We feel that Jamaica has a good wealth of indigenous products and services that we can take our rightful place as a gastronomy destination,” she said, adding that there are significant economic benefits to be derived through tourism linkages.

Additionally, the gastronomy network chairman said the ministry was also looking at designated areas for street food markets and would be working with the promoters of food festivals to help market and enhance their events.

“Food festivals is something that people travel for, so we are working with promoters them to pitch their product at the international marketplace. But also one of the things that people travel and talk a lot about is street food. So therefore we want to look at some designated areas and street food markets and areas that we can celebrate the street food culture” Madden-Greig said.