Sun | Mar 24, 2019

Time to take coffee beyond the cup - Bartlett

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett speaks with Dr Carey Wallace, executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, during the launch of The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is challenging Jamaicans to explore the potential of coffee-infused speciality items and by-products with a view to tapping into the growing multibillion-dollar consumer interest in health and wealth wellness.

"Our research indicates that spa tourism alone represents a $179.7 billion market, and a wellness visitor spends 65 per cent more than the average visitor does," Bartlett disclosed at Tuesday's press launch for the second annual Blue Mountain Coffee Festival at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

"We could build an entire industry around the supply of coffee-infused spa products to this subsector - eye cream, soaps, body scrubs, and butters, as well as lip balms, just to name a few," he said.

While Jamaica has benefited for centuries from its world-renowned premier brand, Blue Mountain Coffee, it is time to innovate and take coffee products well beyond traditional items such as ice cream, baked products, and liqueur, the tourism minister challenged his audience.

 

COFFEE TOURISM SYMPOSIUM

 

"When you consider that 80 per cent of the cherry bean is unused in processing, you can see the unrealised potential. We want to show that economic benefits stretch way beyond the bean. Beyond beauty products, there is coffee flour - a complex carbohydrate that is growing in popularity. There is tea made from the leftover cherry after the bean is removed as well as coffee extracts and many other products that can be made from the fibre-dense 'skin' that surrounds the coffee bean," Bartlett shared.

The tourism minister, who delivered the keynote address, went on to suggest that a coffee tourism symposium with representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; JAMPRO; coffee producers; and hoteliers would be a good starting point.

"This would be the catalyst for extensive research into the use of coffee and its by-products to the benefit of both the coffee and tourism industries," he said.

"Given the impact of disruptive technology, which has put the world at travellers' fingertips, Jamaica must find ways to distinguish itself from similar destinations by offering products that ensure its status as a much-sought-after holiday hotspot and not just a moment in the sun," Bartlett charged.

"This can only happen through product diversification by offering our visitors more immersive experiences that highlight our authentic Jamaican culture. The coffee festival is one such offering. Yet, while Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is our value proposition, we must work together to build a sustainable coffee sector with a multiplier effect that creates more jobs, businesses, and revenue for rural communities and beyond," he stressed.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com