The name is nice, but the truth is that behind the peaberry coffee lies a whole new universe of aromas and nuances that, in many cases, goes completely unnoticed by the general public. But if you don’t know what peaberry coffee is, don’t worry… before we delve into it, we’re going to explain it in detail.
What exactly is peaberry coffee?
The history of peaberry coffee is a curious one. Originally, the mere fact of being different meant that coffee of the peaberry variety was considered a defect, a product of inferior quality. Over the years, it has been better appreciated and studied, to the point of being considered today a gourmet coffee of exquisite taste (and for this reason, we are obliged to make room for it in our pages).
As we saw when we studied parchment coffee, a normal coffee berry or cherry (the red fruit that grows on the tree) contains two beans inside.
Well, in some cases, an estimated 5-10% of the total crop, the cherries develop differently and produce a natural mutation in which one of the two beans is not pollinated.
The consequence is clear: instead of two berries, only one develops, which has more space than normal inside the cherry and will therefore be larger and rounder than normal berries. It will therefore have a different profile in the cup.
And how do you get peaberry coffee?
Well, this part of the process is simple. As they develop on their own inside the coffee fruit, peaberry coffee beans have more space and grow bigger, so they reach a larger diameter and are rounder than a normal bean.
Therefore, after harvesting, it is easy to filter or separate them with a sieve. You can see in this picture that their appearance is clearly different from traditional coffee:
peaberry coffee beans can be obtained from any type of coffee plantation, bean type or origin/country. You can buy peaberry coffee from Nicaragua, Kenya, Brazil… naturally, its properties and taste will be slightly different depending on these variables, just like regular beans.
Blend of peaberry and flat bean coffee
One possibility that you can find in the trade is a blend of peaberry and flat bean coffee. Flat bean coffee is simply the normal shape of the coffee bean (with two beans in each cherry, slightly flattened in shape), and most consumers are unaware of the term because it is simply about all that is sold on the market.
Occasionally, especially in some speciality coffees, peaberry and flat beans may be blended to obtain a completely new and original profile. The peaberry bean type is also sometimes used as part of a coffee blend, particularly to balance the acidity profile of the blend.
What does peaberry coffee taste like?
Once we know what peaberry coffee is, the interesting thing is to find out whether the aesthetic difference actually translates into a different cup profile and aroma; otherwise, it would not make sense to market it separately as a distinct variety.
The flavour of peaberry coffee tends to be (always with nuances, as not all varieties and origins are the same) somewhat more intense and fuller-bodied than usual, as the only bean that develops inside the cherry is the one that receives all the nutrients from the plant. It has more acidity, and a somewhat more delicate, one might even say sweet, aftertaste than a normal bean.
Whether peaberry coffee is better or worse than normal coffee is a more subjective judgement and, of course, subject to many variables such as roasting, which will necessarily be different from that required by normal beans, or the preparation of the coffee by the barista.
Where can I buy peaberry coffee?
To find out where to buy peaberry coffee, you should ideally go to a shop or establishment specialising in coffee and gourmet products. Nowadays, this is the only way. Forget about finding this type of coffee in supermarkets, normal shops or general chains.
If there are no specialised shops of this type in your area, the easiest way is to buy your peaberry coffee on Amazon. And there’s not a huge variety either, mind you. So don’t miss the opportunity if you find the stock.
The price of peaberry coffee is clearly higher than normal, but it is not excessive, and if you want to try it out, it is really affordable.