We know what you’re thinking — another type of coffee to keep track of?! We totally get it. From origin, varietals, processing methods and roast profiles, there are a lot of different variables. But of all the many types of coffee to keep on your shortlist, this particular one — peaberry coffee — definitely needs to be on your radar. This special coffee is one that you’ll easily be able to recognize if you ever happen upon it out in the wild.
What is peaberry coffee?
The coffee bean starts its life as the seed of the coffee cherry—or rather, we should say it starts life as a seed of the coffee cherry. A typical coffee cherry contains two seeds nestled inside its fruit, and these seeds lie flat against each other, giving coffee beans their characteristic half-dome shape.
This is true in about 95% of coffee cherries. In the remaining 5%, a curious mutation occurs: only one seed develops instead of two. The result is a coffee bean that’s entirely round without a flat side (since there was no second seed to lie flat against). These “peaberry” beans— called caracol (meaning “snail”) in Spanish—also tend to be noticeably smaller and denser than the average coffee bean.
There’s no way to visually tell whether a coffee cherry will have a peaberry inside; it’s only evident once the cherries are depulped, processed and sorted by hand. In the past, peaberry coffees were considered a major defect and were discarded. In recent years, however, coffee roasters have noticed that peaberry coffees actually tend to taste sweeter and more flavorful than their regular counterparts. This has led to a sharp demand for peaberry coffee with hefty price premiums given their rarity.
There are a couple leading theories among coffee roasters as to why peaberry coffees express a more intense flavor profile (although it’s important to note that there isn’t any conclusive research on the topic). The first idea is that because the peaberry is the sole seed inside of the coffee cherry, it receives, like most only children, full and undivided attention. The lone peaberry seed absorbs all of the fruit sugars and nutrients normally meant for two seeds, which could also explain why it tends to be significantly denser than a normal seed. All of that nutrition creates a small but mighty seed packed with flavor.
The second theory is that the shape and density of peaberry coffees lend themselves to better roasting, leading to tastier flavor development. The idea is that because peaberries are more round and even in shape, heat travels throughout the bean at a more consistent rate and allows for even roasting.
It could also be a combination of both factors! Regardless, it’s clear to many roasters — us included — that peaberry coffees are an extra special treat. These coffees can be expensive, but we think they’re totally worth it.
Where do peaberry coffees come from?
As far as we’re aware, there isn’t one origin that’s a peaberry “hotspot.” The peaberry mutation has been found in coffee growing regions worldwide and occurs across both arabica and robusta species.
Where Bean & Bean’s Tanzania Kilimanjaro comes from
Located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro’s southern slopes, Kilimanjaro Plantation has been growing and producing high-quality coffee since 1955 as one of the first large scale single-origin producers in Tanzania. Kilimanjaro Plantation is made up of four individual farms: Two Bridges, Lyamungo, Mlama, and Kahawa. 95% of KP’s production is washed, though they are actively experimenting with more honey and natural processing. Drying is done on raised beds, where KP’s employees carefully monitor the moisture level of each lot to ensure even drying.
In January this year, our founder Jiyoon actually summitted Mount Kilimanjaro, an incredible journey that took 7 days to hike 38 miles and ascend 19,340 feet! And, of course, she had Bean & Bean coffee powering her every step—all the way up to the lofty Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa.
What Bean & Bean’s Tanzania Peaberry Tastes like
Our Tanzania Peaberry is fully washed and composed of Bourbon and Kents varietals. You can expect heady, floral notes of citrus — think meyer lemon and grapefruit zest — with lots of rich cocoa and dark chocolate, a classic pairing. An intense caramel sweetness rounds out this exceptionally delicious coffee! We recommend enjoying it black, but a little bit of milk or cream will make it extra luxurious.
Other Bean & Bean coffees you should try
We currently have some outstanding, limited run coffees on our menu that we encourage you to try for a truly unique tasting experience. We have just a small quantity of these special coffees, so order them now before they’re gone!
Gesha coffee is known to have some of the highest cup scores in the world. This washed Gesha from Junín in Peru won 6th place in the 2022 Peru Cup of Excellence, with a score of 89.46. It is milky and smooth, bright in acidity, has a creamy body and a sweet and delicate finish.
Jiyoon, from the Mother-Daughter Q Grader Team, was invited to serve on a panel of international jurors for this Cup of Excellence Peru 2022. During the juries, this coffee stood out for its overwhelming complexity and sweetness. First selected as a national winner, this coffee then moved onto the top 10 and finally won 6th place. Read more about their experience!
This Pacamara (a type of coffee variety) comes from the Santa Felisa Farm in Guatemala. Established in 1904, Santa Felisa Farm has maintained the founding values of integrity, quality, loyalty and justice. The Farm is now run by the fourth generation siblings under the guidance of the visionary agronomist, ecologist & Q-Grader, Anabella Meneses.
Since 2010, Anabella has been researching innovative methods to develop different flavors during the fermentation and drying process. This dedication and passion was rewarded with the 1st place prize in the 2017 Cup of Excellence.