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The world of coffee beans is a lot bigger than just Arabica or Robusta. Coffee can also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which may affect the brew’s flavor and body quality.
And one type of coffee bean that stands out the most is peaberry coffee, which has been gaining more attention from coffee lovers in recent years.
In this article, I will help you find the answer to these questions – what is peaberry coffee, what makes it so special and so expensive, how to brew with it, and more.
What Is Peaberry Coffee Bean?
If you’re unaware of where coffee comes from originally, coffee beans are actually seeds collected from harvested coffee cherries, the fruit of the coffee trees.
Each of these coffee cherries typically carries two seeds AKA two regular beans.
This is why you often see illustrations of 2 normal coffee beans with their flat sides facing each other while their rounder sides form a neat circle or oval, like the logo of Coffee Geek. They illustrate the 2 coffee beans of a typical coffee cherry.
Peaberry coffees, on the other hand, carry only one bean within their husk due to a natural mutation in their genetics where one ovule doesn’t successfully pollinate.
With the extra space, the single bean grows much larger and rounder than your regular beans, taking up the pea shape of their carrying coffee cherries with no flat side.
Although peaberry beans are growing in popularity in the coffee market, which makes them appear rather readily available, these genetic mutations in fact only make up around 5 – 10% of a harvest.
So it definitely takes a lot longer to sort and collect a full bag of peaberry beans than normal beans.
What Is So Special About Peaberry Coffee Beans?
So how does the inherent difference in size set peaberry coffee beans apart from regular ones in the market?
Does Peaberry Coffee Taste Different?
What does peaberry coffee taste like?
You must have seen or heard many peaberry coffee packages and coffee lovers preaching that the bigger-sized bean tastes noticeably lighter, sweeter, brighter, more balanced, and overall more flavorful and richer than regular coffee beans.
The argument is that, due to the natural mutation, the nutrients of a coffee cherry, including sugar content and acidity, don’t get split into two seeds but instead contribute to producing one superior bean.
However, this is still very much debatable as there’s hardly any scientific research to prove this to be true. So it could just be a case of personal perception and preference.
But, keep in mind that since this coffee cherry mutation isn’t a very common occurrence, 5 – 10% chance of happening as I’ve mentioned earlier, more developed coffee-growing regions operating at a larger scale to produce more crops are more capable of producing more coffee peaberry.
Specific regions like Brazil, the top coffee producer in the world, would also have better equipment, labor, and capital to sort them from regular coffee beans to package and sell.
And these coffee producers can also grow coffee in better conditions, which makes the peaberry coffee bean from the same batch tend to be more high-quality.
So, you’re probably more likely to catch better quality peaberry beans than other coffee beans in the market, which perpetuates the perception that peaberry – the larger beans – are better than normal coffee.
The bottom line is, we don’t know for sure whether the peaberry taste is more superior. You can probably expect it to produce a somewhat different cup of coffee, but just don’t put all your chips in.
Does Peaberry Coffee Have More Caffeine?
Similar to the flavor, it’s unknown whether peaberry coffees have a higher caffeine content than the average Joe to better power your morning cup.
They can if we follow the same flavor profile aggregating logic presented above.
But the caffeine difference can most likely be attributed to the difference in bean origin, roasting process, and coffee extraction method.
Why Is Peaberry So Expensive?
Peaberry coffee is often sold at a comparatively higher price tag than the regular bean, mainly for these 3 reasons:
As I’ve repeatedly mentioned, only around 5 – 10% of the coffee crop are peaberry coffee cherries.
Extra labor and money are required for sorting, processing, and roasting the one-seed peaberry coffee from the regular coffees.
Probably. It’s subjected to personal experience.
Kona coffee, a popular Arabica coffee produced in Kona, Hawaii, is known for its high quality and price. And, naturally, the price is driven even higher when it comes to Kona peaberry coffee.
How To Roast Peaberry Coffee
Due to the rounder shape and different coffee density of the peaberry coffee, the roasting practice for these special seeds can be adjusted, such as the roasting temperature and time to reach the center, rather than following the same way the usual coffee is roasted.
One of the hardest processes is the first step, sample roasting, which is for evaluating the quality of the coffee and settling on the ideal roast profile that best brings out the aroma and flavor notes.
Once that’s established, the rest of the roasting process can be relatively easier. A round shape with no flat sides allows the peaberry coffee to roll more smoothly.
How To Brew Peaberry Coffee
For those giving peaberry coffee a try for the first time, I recommend getting a medium roast and brewing a cup of Pour-Over that’s clean and smooth to best highlight the brighter and sweeter notes that this only child is well-known for.
But there are certainly no rigid rules to how peaberry coffee should be brewed. Treat it like any other type of coffee you’ve bought and used.
Where To Buy Peaberry Coffee
Peaberry coffee shouldn’t be too hard to find but you’ll have better luck at more established online and offline coffee retailers that offer different varieties of coffee beans.
If you’re looking for a blend for a first impression taste test, I recommend Kona Peaberry Coffee from Volcanica Coffee as a good start. It’s smooth. It’s nutty. It’s balanced in both body and flavors, which makes it stand as a good test for any of your favorite brewing methods.
To Wrap Up – Are Peaberry Beans Better?
The hype around this single developing seed may just be a marketing ploy, but their growing conditions can guarantee them to be better quality than the average Joe, so why not give it a shot?