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Keble Munn: the Blue Mountain Coffee man died, April 2008, age 88.

In the generation before the phrase "specialty coffee" was coined, and prior to the acknowledgement of Price Peterson's La Esmeralda, and William McAlpin's La Minita, there was Keble Munn's Mavis Bank Blue Mountain Coffee of Jamaica. Keble died in April, at the age of 88. What few know, and that which we honor, and remember today, is that it was Keble Munn's successful fight for the Jamaica Blue Mountain district recognition that became the knowing model for all these later specialty coffee successes.

Munn served in the Canadian army during WWII, and on his return home was discouraged to find that the reputation of Jamaican coffee had diminished, he believed because low grown produce was being exported as Blue Mountain Coffee. He determined that to reestablish the country's coffee reputation it was necessary to create quality standards, and a government prescribed Blue Mountain coffee district.

Munn entered local politics in 1956, when Jamaica was still a Crown Colony. He served as a Councilor and later as Deputy Mayor of Kingston, and on two occasions both as Minister of National Security and Minister of Agriculture. He also served as Leader of the House of Representatives. He retired from active politics in 1980.

Munn's efforts created an economic model that, in his generation, placed Blue Mountain coffee at the pinnacle of the world coffee economic ladder, and placed the small Jamaican Blue Mountain farmer among the highest earning coffee farmers in the world.

Keble's ambitions for Blue Mountain coffee were realized, in 1973, while serving as Minister of Agriculture in 1973, an Act of Parliament was passed providing a specified Blue Mountain coffee district, and quality parameters including Mavis Bank as one of only four "factories" for the production of Certified Blue Mountain coffee. Munn was attacked for using his position to create business for the benefit of his Mavis Bank processing facility, but Munn's vision for Jamaican coffee was vindicated as the new parameters that produced an extraordinarily high quality product; the nations coffee reputation was restored, and production grew many fold providing a livelihood to many smallholders, and creating the need for additional mills that were licensed for the processing of Blue Mountain coffee.

In 1953, Keble saw the potential for Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee in the Japanese market, and negotiated loans, from a Japanese coffee importer, for the further development of the Blue Mountain coffee industry. In the late 1970s, with Elkins Coffee Co., Concord, New Hampshire he created the Jablum brand of Blue Mountain coffee that found its way into fine shops throughout the U.S.

Keble's life in coffee was a beacon in the generation after WWII that lit the way to the rebirth of specialty coffee in the 1970s. His admirers in North America recognized his contribution in 2001, by honoring him as an SCAA Lifetime Achievement Laureate.

Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, expressed deep regret at the passing of the Hon. Keble Munn, O.J. noting Keble's service to his country and describing him as, "a passionate advocate for small farmers." Keble Munn is survived by his wife, Yvonne, his son Gordon and daughters Gwyneth, Leiza and Jodi. Respectfully Submitted by Donald N. Schoenholt
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Title Annotation:Obituaries
Comment:Keble Munn: the Blue Mountain Coffee man died, April 2008, age 88.(Obituaries)
Author:Schoenholt, Donald N.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Words:529
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