Peaberries – What They Are & Whether the Hype is Real

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The coffee plant produces a round, red fruit about the size of a grape, known as a “coffee cherry.” While there is some variation in size and density – depending on the location and type of tree, about 90% of the Arabica cherries harvested have two coffee seeds (or beans) inside.

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In the other 10% of Arabica crops, one of the seeds sometimes fails to develop, and the other grows to fill both spaces. This single-bean is known as a peaberry, and while it could be seen as a defect, is actually often sorted out as a distinct group. This is easy to do, peaberries are significantly smaller than standard beans, with a more rounded shape.

 

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Peaberries don’t necessarily taste any better or worse than their standard counterparts, however, sometimes a peaberry crop can display a distinct intensity or sweetness. This could be due to only one bean receiving all the nutrients, potentially producing a more concentrated flavor. Peaberries also roast differently because of their rounded shape, and this can have an effect as well.

From our Roastmaster –

Because peaberries are rounded (versus the flat shape of a normal coffee bean) they tend to roll in the roasting drum rather than tumble which contributes to a more uniform roast.  Also, peaberries are only one size, whereas a normal coffee bean might be a blend of  2 or more sizes.  Thus, having a uniform screen size also contributes to the uniformity of the roast.  

From experience, we can say that while not all peaberries are created equal, some will absolutely shine. Our latest Roaster’s Choice is a peaberry straight from Rwanda, hand sorted from this year’s Ruli Mountain crop – and it has all the familiar floral sweetness, with additional berry notes that both surprised and delighted us. Available online on July 1st!

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