— Bulletproof Fanclub (@coffeehacked) September 25, 2016
Peaberry coffee beans, arabica beans, robusta beans, loads of words that mean what when all I want to do is drink some good coffee please barista!
I know I’m talking to the already converted, however, coffee is
a the most enjoyable beverage. This not only for its refined robust flavor, tons of benefits, but also for the signature energy boost that has empowered the people, finished deadlines and won empires. (Fun Fact: Did you know that Benjamin Franklin used to hangout in coffee shops before it became fashionable¹) Plus of course those of us who add some butter and MCT oil in our Bulletproof Coffee in the morning
As the novice coffee drinker delves deeper into the world of these percolated brown potions they will indubitably be captivated by the vast extent of fascinating flavors and delicious varieties that await them at their local Java fuelling station.
One of the curiosities you are sure to find as you explore the world of coffee is the peaberry bean. Many people mistakenly assume this is a specific species of bean or even a special blend, but neither of these descriptions are accurate.
Watch this video from Starbucks giving you a quick overview.
The Botanical Difference That Makes a Peaberry Coffee Bean Different
Doesn’t matter which bean you grind all coffee have traces its origin to a genus of plants known as Coffea². Anyone who has carefully examined your average coffee cherry will notice it has a round side and a flat side that is split in two. This is because the green coffee bean is actually a fruit, a berry to be precise called a coffee cherry. Each berry produces two of these ovules.
There is however, at least one exception to this rule, sometimes two seeds don’t develop within the coffee berry. When this happens, the single seed growing inside the berry is not limited to one side and grows into a “rounded” coffee bean or a Peaberry coffee bean.
These peaberries are usually much smaller than their “twin” counterparts and develop an elongated shape when roasted.
So What is the Big Deal About Peaberry Coffee Beans?
Coffee cherries are the fruit of the coffee tree. Inside each coffee cherry there are two seeds – we know and refer to these as coffee beans. Which means, as you might just have guessed, that a peaberry (also known as a caracoli) is nothing more than a coffee bean without a partner. They occur in many different forms and varieties in almost every growing region and usually anywhere between 5 percent to 15 percent of coffee cherries can contain only a smaller single coffee bean. They are much smaller than the usual green coffee bean.
Well first of all they are coffee beans and are endowed with immutable value as such. After that, it really depends on who is answering the question. The first thing to know is that peaberries are a genetic mutation and exist in all coffee types grown everywhere that grows coffee from Brazil to Hawaii.
Then if you would ask this question to the big coffee emporium, selling peaberries at four or five times the rate of regular beans, they would explain in no uncertain terms that not only is the taste of peaberries superior, it is also the cure for premature balding and the answer to the upcoming energy crisis — they could be exaggerating their answers a little bit.
The fact is most coffee aficionados will tell you there is not really much difference in the flavors of the regular bean and the peaberry. It is the belief that a single bean in a berry will receive the nutrients and flavors of two berries and create a “super berry” — but, it just doesn’t work that way.
One reason that peaberries should be more costly is that they are rare and therefore especially hard to find in a ton of coffee beans . Because 5% of the unroasted beans are peaberries it will take serious sorting to create a kilo of peaberries — but it does happen.
Naturally, when it comes to roasting peaberries, the process will be different. The size of the peaberry is different and therefore the temperatures will have to be adjusted accordingly. Some coffee roasters think that roasting peaberries is slightly more challenging than roasting regular coffee beans. That’s down to the shape, and size meaning that more care is required then usual. As such, a slow and steady roast works best and that’s in order to ensure that the flavours develop on the inside just as much as on the outside. Nevertheless, if you think there will be some sublime nuances in the flavor profile of a peaberry that are lacking in the regular Joe— you may find you are only paying for the sorting process.
Can You Easily Spot a Peaberry on the Farm?
Unfortunately, because there’s no way to tell from looking at the coffee cherry if the coffee seeds inside are going to be a peaberry or two coffee beans it means that they have to be hand sorted after picking and then processed in order to be sold separately to the normal coffee beans. In many cases the peaberries are sold alongside the normal coffee beans in order to save money. All of this means that if you want to try peaberries be prepared to pay more per gram then you would with normal coffee beans.
There was a time (believe it or not) when peaberry coffee beans were rejected. They were considered inferior!!! In short, this was due to their size and the somewhat unappealing difference in their appearance with regular coffee beans. In terms of appearance, because it’s the only coffee bean in the cherry there’s nothing for it to grow against and flatten it, meaning that the single coffee bean develops into an unusual oval (or pea) shape.
Do Peaberries Taste Better Than Regular Arabica or Robusta Beans?
Despite this, today many people believe that because peaberries are smaller – all of their flavour is ultra concentrated into the one coffee bean. Fans of peaberry coffee beans usually say that they taste sweeter and more flavoursome. However, it is not really clear if this is actually the case. Instead rather like normal coffee beans some of them can taste amazing, and some of them can be rather average. One thing is for sure though, and that’s they are quite different from anything else on the coffee market and they have the ability to taste very special. So much so, that some varieties of peaberry have been breed for their peaberry.
Don’t trust this humble article as the golden truth, it’s always best to try it yourself. If you buy your beans whole and grind them at home, not only will you be enjoying a VASTLY superior brew, you will get the chance to sort for Peaberries . When you have collected a few tablespoons, do a taste test and post your comments below. Enjoy your Brew!
- 9 Famous Geniuses Who Were Also Huge Coffee Addicts by Amanda Scherker published 06/02/2014 Huffington Post Taste
- What is Coffee? National Coffee Association USA Website retrieved 1 June 2016
- Peaberry on Coffee Wikia retrieved 1 June 2016
- The Tanzanian Peaberry Mystery by Kenneth Davids
- Coffee Bean on Wikipedia