The earliest reference to a coffee house in Jamaica comes from Kingston in the early 1730s, and likely served imported, not locally grown coffee. It is said that Jamaica does not have a coffee drinking tradition as we prefer teas, particularly herbal and medicinal brews.
But the old-time tradition of brewing coffee is still practiced by country folk who grind and draw their pure coffee in muslin bags, usually with a pinch of salt or a tipple of rum.
While coffee culture is not yet mainstream in Jamaica it is growing in popularity. Today we are seeing an evolving coffee culture with a number of urban coffee hotspots opening up throughout the corporate area, both uptown and downtown. And some are popping up in unusual places… we have small cafes in art galleries, bookshops and museums; and even in car dealerships and home décor outlets. Some are located in the city centre, others on the outskirts; and there are a few high in the mountains while others sit on the water’s edge downtown. Some cafes are large international franchises, others are home-grown; and some have only one outlet while others have branches islandwide.
The décor also varies – some are spacious, modern and sleek, while others are small and intimate. The ambience can be low-key and quiet, or crowded and busy. Almost all have a laptop vibe and offer free Wi-Fi.
All staff are trained baristas in the art of coffee-making and the menus are extensive. You can sit and savour your coffee or get it on the go. There are so many variations of cold and hot specialty gourmet brews and they come in a variety of flavours. You can get it simple or fancy, and most offer the full gamut from espresso shots and French-pressed to every kind of ‘cino, from frappuccino to mochaccino!
Café culture appeals to the lifestyle of young millennials as well as working professionals. It’s considered the ‘third place philosophy’ – there’s home, there’s work, and there’s the place that becomes familiar, your hangout, your ‘go to’ place to relax and chill.
All the cafes offer an extended menu of breakfast, brunch and lunch snacks as well as light meals after hours. Typical menus offer savoury and sweet food including paninis, sandwiches, wraps, bagels, gourmet breads, soups, vegetarian and vegan dishes, salads, as well as pastries, muffins, cakes, and puddings.