To celebrate two major milestones, H.E. Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards, Jamaican Ambassador to Japan, partnered with Mr. Norman Grant, Managing Director and CEO, Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited (MBCF), to host a commemorative dinner inviting people involved in the coffee trade, including Tatsushi Ueshima, Chairman of the AJIJC (Association of Japanese Importers of Jamaican Coffee) and Honorary Chairman of UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd. and Mark Mackintosh, Vice Chairman of MBCF.
MBCF, which currently produces and exports high-quality Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, was founded in 1923 by Victor and Edna Munn. In the century since its first steps, MBCF has built Jamaica’s prosperity by providing stable jobs and livelihoods for coffee farmers, employees, and farming families, who work together to create the highest quality coffee. Coffee has paved the way and is a major contributor to Jamaica’s investment, trade, and national development.
The relationship between Japan and Blue Mountain Coffee began in 1953 when MBCF exported three barrels of green beans to Key Coffee in Japan. Japan recognized Jamaica as a state on 6th August 1962, the same day when Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain, and formal diplomatic relations were established in March 1964. Civil diplomacy through Blue Mountain Coffee began 10 years earlier, and Blue Mountain Coffee can even be called the first Jamaican ‘ambassador’ to Japan.
Blue Mountain Coffee is deeply loved by the Japanese people. The early development of this market was due to the pioneering partnership between Tadao Ueshima, the founder of UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd., and Keble Munn. Today, that partnership continues under the current chairman, Tatsushi Ueshima, who is the son of Tadao Ueshima.
The relationship between Blue Mountain Coffee and Japan, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, has grown tremendously, with exports starting at US$300 in 1953 and now valuing an average of US$20 million annually. The Japanese market has grown to account for 75% of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee green beans exports.
MBCF, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, is continuing to further develop by increasing exports of the finest Blue Mountain coffee and by launching new products such as coffee-infused chocolate. Since its founding, MBCF has worked closely with coffee farmers, producers, and staff, and while its win-win attitude of valuing its business partners remains unchanged, MBCF has become a global brand representing Jamaica.
It cannot be ignored that successive Jamaican ambassadors to Japan have made great efforts to build this win-win relationship. Current Ambassador Shorna-Kay Richards also refers to Blue Mountain Coffee as her ‘predecessor’.
Next year, the Jamaica-Japan partnership will celebrate its 60th anniversary, and, of course, the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations will be celebrated with [a cup of] the King of Coffee.
This dinner ended with the finest Blue Mountain coffee. How delicious was that cup? This is Blue Mountain Coffee! That’s what everyone must have thought.