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What is Peaberry Coffee and Why Is it Special?

As a coffee connoisseur, you must have come across some slightly more expensive coffee beans called Peaberry coffee. So what makes Peaberry coffee so special, and what is it?

In this post, we’ll dive deep into the coffee cherry and pick it apart to see what makes Peaberry coffee beans so special and why they are so coveted.

What is Peaberry Coffee

Peaberry coffee is a natural mutation in arabica and robusta coffee cherries where just one seed develops instead of two. The seed is rounder and smaller. Peaberry is also known in Spanish as caracol, or snail.

peaberry coffee up close

Coffee beans come from the coffee cherry. The coffee cherry has a thin layer of pulpy fruit on the outside and two seeds on the inside. The two seeds are round on the outside and flat on the side facing each other.

That’s why you typically don’t get a single coffee bean out of a single coffee cherry: you get two instead.

Peaberry beans, as you saw above, are a natural mutation where there is just one smaller, rounder bean instead of two.

Peaberry beans are not as common as regular beans, so they’re very sought after and many consider them to be some of the best coffee in the world. About 10-15% of all coffee beans harvested will be Peaberry.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the relative scarcity that makes Peaberry so expensive. Rather, it’s the additional labor involved in picking them out of the rest of the harvest!

That’s because Peaberry coffee beans are not limited to a specific type of coffee bean or even a specific region. They can be found in all harvests.

As a result, places that have better infrastructure to pick out Peaberry beans tend to produce more.

If you buy a bag of regular beans and keep an eye out, you may find a Peaberry coffee bean that has snuck into the bag.

How is Peaberry Coffee Harvested and Roasted?

Peaberry coffee is usually separated using a seive or using a mechanical process that determines the weight of the beans and separates them from regular coffee beans.

Roasters have to be careful with Peaberries as they tend to have a slightly different roast profile than normal coffees.

Usually, they’ll roast a small batch to determine the best roasting conditions and then roast the remaining beans.

There is a difference in the roasting process because the size and density of Peaberries is different than that of normal coffee beans.

Some folks say that the shape of Peaberries make them bounce around better in the roaster, allowing for more even heat distribution and better, more efficient roasting.

However, some Peaberries have an almost unnoticeable first crack, making them a little challenging to monitor. You need to be very vigilant during the roast to make sure you don’t go beyond the roast level you were targeting.

Is Peaberry better than regular coffee?

There’s a lot of hot debate as to whether Peaberry coffee is objectively better than regular coffee. A lot of it is just marketing, though there is some truth behind it all.

Many claim that Peaberry coffees are just plain superior to regular coffee in all respects and the flavor blows everything else out of the water.

However, a more reasonable explanation is that there are certainly some differences in taste between the two and it’s a matter of personal preference as to which one is better.

Some even go as far as to say that the rounder shape makes Peaberry coffee more conducive to the roasting process than flat coffee beans. However, proponents of regular coffee claim that regular coffee works better in the roasting process!

It’s very difficult to be objective in these matters as the ease of roasting is something that’s not too easy to measure.

Since Peaberries are found in all types of coffee beans, you could hypothetically pick up really poor quality beans, find peaberries from them, taste them, and conclude that Peaberry is bad coffee!

Is Peaberry stronger than regular coffee?

A cup of coffee made with Robusta Peaberry beans contains slightly more caffeine than a cup of coffee made with regular coffee beans.

The difference is quite marginal, but it’s there.

It’s worth noting that caffeine does not equal stronger flavor, so if it’s more flavor you’re after, you’ll need to consider the roast level, the origin, and the extraction method.

Where to buy Peaberry coffee

Many roasters offer some variety of Peaberry coffee, so you can head over to your favorite roaster’s website and see what they have available.

We’re big fans of Volcanica Coffee, so here are some of the Peaberry varieties on offer from them:

Hawaiian Kona Peaberry

Kona Peaberry from Hawaii is some of the most premium quality Peaberry you can find. It’s sun-dried and processed, has smooth flavors, and a complex body. At over $100 per bag, it’s not cheap, but the combination of Kona quality and Peaberry makes this a cup of coffee that you’ll never forget.

Costa Rica Peaberry

If you’re looking for something a little more balanced but still from one of the top coffee-growing regions in the world, check out Costa Rica Peaberry. Volcanica’s specialty Costa Rica Peaberry is balanced and bright, and makes for a nice flavorful cup.

Tanzania Peaberry

Tanzania Peaberry is the most budget-friendly option out there. It also tastes great and has an acidic taste with a bright body.

Conclusion

Peaberry coffee is a really easy way to spoil your taste buds and forget about ever drinking normal coffee again. While it’s more expensive than regular coffee, once you develop a taste for this superior coffee bean, you may find it hard to go back!

About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.

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