What is the Peaberry?

I recently enjoyed a great coffee tasting event put on by a local roaster, and it was an event I won’t soon forget. For a mere 10 bucks you could enter and sample exotic peaberry coffee variations from throughout the world, all produced by the same company. It was very informative, as well as taste bud satisfying. The first thing I learned (which I should have already known) is that if you want to have the freshest supply of coffee in your home, you need to make at least a weekly, if not bi-weekly run to the roaster. This will ensure that you always have the freshest coffee on hand. Let’s delve into what peaberry coffee is, and the different varieties that were available for tasting.

Peaberry

The coffee cherry pit is comprised of two distinct coffee beans. This is true about 96 percent of the time, but that other four percent sees a lack of fertilization, which results in the cherry only producing a single oval-shaped bean. This resulting bean is called a peaberry. Originally, the peaberry was separated and tossed out as a defect. However, people realized over time that not only can a peaberry bean create great tasting coffee, but it has a distinctly different flavor from the beans that come from that same source.

Coffee Tasting

The tasting event was held to promote a book about coffee and peaberry coffees in general, and was hosted by the company’s owner and head roaster, and they offered seven coffees for sampling, five of which were peaberry products.

• Tanzanian Peaberry: This is a product I have personally purchased and always enjoyed. It’s intentionally cultivated (unlike other sources where it’s an afterthought), crisp and bright. Because of that, it is a highly sought after variety with a deep following.
• Cameroon Peaberry: This coffee is much wilder than Tanzanian. The bean samples presented showed quite a bit of color inconsistency, and these inconsistencies translated to the flavor of the coffee. It was still tasty, with an earthy flavor, much like Ethiopian Harrar. This is perhaps the only sample that I didn’t completely enjoy, as it had a “papery” taste overall. Something tells me they won’t be adding that to their next marketing campaign.
• Rwandan Peaberry: This is similar to the previous two, and just as good as Tanzanian, yet much tangier.
• Jamaican Blue Mountain Peaberry: Roasted much darker than a typical variety, it has a distinct taste that is similar to Hawaii Kona. However, just like Kona, it costs three times as much, which is hard to justify.
• Jamaican Blue Mountain: This isn’t a peaberry, but was offered to show the different between it and the peaberry. The difference was subtle, and this blend is also hard to recommend due to its inflated price tag.
• Papua New Guinea Peaberry: This was the star of the show, with a wonderfully clean and bright taste.
• Papua New Guinea: Same source and roast, yet the non-peaberry variety. Just as tasty, yet not as bright.

How is the Peaberry Different?

The owner and head roaster had some wonderful insight on why peaberry coffee tastes different:

• Because the bean is rounded and has no flat side, it makes for a consistent and even roast.
• The flavor characteristics of each region are deeply engrained into the bean, capturing its true essence. This is much like wine, where the vintages from various areas of the world can easily be discerned by someone with a talented palate.
• Lastly, peaberries are picked individually, by hand. This translates to a tight selection and optimal consistency and quality.

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