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Coffee Traders beans to fly first class

Published:Sunday | November 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter

A deal between Japan Airlines and José Kawashima will see Blue Mountain Coffee being served to the carrier's top-paying clients, according to Jason Sharp of Coffee Traders Limited (CTL).

Sharp said the agreement was struck between Kawashima and the airline in September at a meeting at which he was present at JAL's Tokyo offices.

Kawashima, a luxury coffee roaster and operator of a chain of cafés, will source the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee beans from CTL and then supply the airline with the brew.

JAL was to begin serving Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee as of November 1, 2012, said Sharp.

"I am very optimistic that this will be a long-term arrangement as they would be operating in a super-premium market which has customers with a lot of disposable income," said Sharp, the head of marketing for Coffee Traders.

"It is a super-premium market and the idea is to introduce the product to them and hope that when they get into their regular habit, they will want to try it again and start drinking Blue Mountain Coffee as a regular part of their daily routine. We are putting the brand in a category that signals luxury, and that is what helps to keep the premium value of the brand."

Mi Cafeto, a retail operation owned by Kawashima, sells roasted coffee in Champagne bottles, which Sharp said not only provides an ideal barrier to oxygen, but gives the product the look and feel of a true luxury brand.


Sharp said Kawashima, who is known in Japan as 'The Coffee Hunter', travels the world looking for beans of "exceptional quality". Kawashima also worked in Jamaica in the mid-1980s for Ueshima Coffee Company.

Sharp said he expects that this initiative would help to revitalise the Jamaica Blue Mountain brand in Japan.

"Sales to Japan have been flat since the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008 and the brand needs some solid promotions to reconnect with old customers as well as to rejuvenate new ones," he said.

"This development with JAL is ideal because the demographic with the highest levels of disposable income will get a chance to indulge in coffee masterly prepared and brewed ... I am confident that after having such a wonderful experience, they will become loyal Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee customers."

Sharp said the first shipment of 42 barrels was sent to Mi Cafeto by air last month.

Coffee Traders Limited is a Jamaican-owned family business founded by brothers Richard and Jason Sharp. The company also owns and operates the local Café Blue coffee shops.