There is a type of coffee bean called Peaberry that has been popular for some time now but for many people they still are not sure what it is, why its so well known and where the name comes.
Therefore I have done some research on this unique coffee bean and have come with this helpful guide that is prefect for beginners and anyone else who is interested in learning more about this type of coffee.
What is Peaberry Coffee? Peaberry coffee is made from peaberries, which are a mutated version of a regular coffee bean, but instead of normally having two beans inside one coffee cherry there is only one.
Coffee made from peaberries is said to be sweeter and more flavorful, and in this article, we take a deep dive into this unique type of coffee.
What Happens to Peaberry Coffee?
In a regular coffee fruit, commonly referred to as a coffee cherry, two seeds develop inside the cherry, which is what gets harvested, roasted, brewed, and turned into the coffee that gets all of us through the day.
However, there is a mutation that occurs in around 5% of the coffee beans harvested that causes only one seed to be fertilized, and that is the only seed that develops inside the cherry.
The result of that mutation is called a peaberry. It’s also called a caracol, which is the Spanish word for snail as the beans kind of look like snails, especially when roasted which kind of goes hand in hand with the English term for the bean, as they do resemble peas a little bit as well. .
These peaberries are smaller and denser than their standard counterparts, and it’s said that these beans produce a richer flavor than regular coffee, but more on the flavor later.
There’s no way to tell whether a coffee cherry has a peaberry or the standard two seeds inside, and there’s also no way to artificially produce this mutation, which gives these beans a steeper price tag than regular coffee beans.
This is also because peaberries need to be manually separated from a harvested batch of beans and they also roast differently, so they need to be taken out to avoid an uneven or unpleasant roast on the bean.
Where Does Peaberry Come From?
Believe it or not, the peaberry mutation occurs in almost every coffee plant, regardless of the region it was grown in, or the process of growing the plant. You could have an Arabica plant or a Robusta but the chances of a peaberry developing in the fruit remains the same.
If you take a closer look at the coffee beans that come in the bag you bought in the supermarket, chances are you’ll find a couple of peaberry beans in there, though you probably won’t find enough to be able to make an entire batch of just peaberry coffee.
The Harvesting of Peaberry Coffee
Since there’s no way of knowing if the mutation exists in a single fruit or plant, peaberry coffee beans are usually manually separated from the rest of the regular beans, which is why some of these peaberry beans end up in most bags of coffee beans.
Normally, these beans are actually separated by hand, which can be quite a process as there are huge batches of coffee beans that need to be sorted, which is part of the reason that a bag that consists only of peaberry coffee can cost you so much more than a regular bag of coffee.
Does Peaberry Coffee Taste Any Different?
The answer to this question will all depend on who you ask. There are a lot of coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs out there who will go on record saying that peaberry coffee tastes better.
They cite that the coffee from the mutated beans is sweeter, with a more complex flavor and deeper aroma. However, there also exists a group who says that there’s no difference at all, and if there is one, it’s way too subtle to notice. Both these arguments definitely have their strong points, and we’ll go through both of them in this section.
Why Peaberry Coffee Might Be Different
While descriptions of the flavor profile of peaberry coffee varies greatly depending on who you ask, the common consensus among those who taste the difference is that the peaberry is sweeter.
The number of people who can confidently say this coffee is sweeter should be enough confirmation, however, there isn’t exactly a definitive scientific explanation as to why this coffee tastes sweeter to some palettes.
One common theory that floats around the coffee community, however, is that since the peaberry doesn’t have to share the cherry with another seed, it can absorb more of the sugar and nutrients in the cherry as compared to if there were two seeds in the fruit.
While that may make sense, there isn’t any scientific proof for the theory. This is also where the argument for peaberry coffee being more nutritious comes from.
There really is no definitive answer when it comes to peaberries, with most neutral experts simply saying that it can be sweeter or have a different flavor. However, there’s no way of saying if it will taste different all the time, when it tastes different, and how it tastes different.
Why It May Not Be So Different After All
It might be safe to say that people have different experiences with this type of coffee, as there are some people who taste no difference at all. There have been multiple coffee experts who have come up to say that the coffee may taste different sometimes, but it can’t be sure.
This is what brought up the question as to whether there’s an actual taste difference, or is there a placebo effect happening since people expect or look for a different flavor when trying peaberry coffee.
Those who don’t believe that peaberry coffee is any different from a regular cup of joe have often cited marketing as the main reason people taste a difference. Peaberries are often marketed as exotic and premium coffee beans, and as anyone who’s bought a lot of coffee would know, exotic beans are often seen as superior to “standard” ones.
On top of that, there are so many different variables that can change the way coffee tastes, from how it was roasted, how it was brewed, and as some enthusiasts will say, even the cup you use will affect the flavor of the drink.
How Is Peaberry Coffee Roasted?
As said earlier, these beans are usually sorted by hand, but that’s not the only special part of the processing of peaberries. Coffee roasting is a craft on its own and roasting peaberry coffee can be tricky and require it’sown unique temperature, air flow changes and roasting times.
Before doing a production roast, a roaster will usually roast one or two small batches of coffee, usually in a small sample roaster in order to roast larger batches at the ideal settings.
Since peaberries roast differently and have there own unique qualities they are never blended with standard or normal (for lack of a better term) coffee beans.
The Peaberry , since it is one single bean, when roasted correctly will have a more caffeine and a sweeter taste. The roast level is usually a medium roast although there are a fair number of roasters that will roast it light and small group that will roast it dark. However, keep in mind that the darker a coffee is roasted, the more you will taste the roast and less the actual coffee.
Why Is Peaberry Coffee More Expensive?
Probably the biggest reason that peaberries can cost more than standard coffee is all the extra labor required. There isn’t any machine that can detect peaberries, especially in exceptionally large batches of coffee.
So what usually happens to a bag of peaberry coffee before it hits the stores is the company will get more people to look through the batch of beans and painstakingly look for all the peaberries in the batch. Now this is far from easy, as peaberries only occur in about 5-10% of the fruits that get harvested.
All this extra effort alone would be enough to raise the price significantly, but aside from that companies also see the value in marketing these beans as exotic and premium.
That’s why a bag of peaberry coffee beans can cost you up to $50, depending on where you buy it, and as to whether or not those extra dollars are worth it all depends on how the coffee tastes for you, which leads us to the final verdict of the article.
Final Verdict: Is It Worth It?
This is a very tricky question to ask. When dealing with the world of food and drinks, one needs to consider that each one of the 8 billion people in the world all perceive things differently.
What may look great for you may look horrible in another person’s eyes, while a certain smell might invite a positive memory, the same scent might cause someone to cringe in disgust, and the same goes for peaberry coffee.
For some people, the difference is immense. The sweet flavor and stronger aroma are ever-present, which will cause them to believe that the coffee is worth the higher price tag. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all. People enjoy different things differently.
However, there are some people who will definitely say there’s no difference at all, which is also perfectly fine. The difference in coffee flavors can be incredibly subtle sometimes, which causes some people to not taste the difference, which happens especially when you don’t have that much experience with coffee.
The only real way to determine whether the coffee will be worth it will be for you to go out and try it yourself. While an entire bag of peaberry coffee may be too expensive for just a test, there are lots of cafes where you can try a tiny cup of the coffee, or you can even ask your friends who drink peaberry if you can give it a try.
And if you taste the difference and like it, by all means, go ahead and get yourself a bag from your local roaster, (call before as not every roaster has it) or online from places like Amazon. But if you don’t taste a difference, you aren’t alone and might actually be better off sipping on your regular cup of joe.