Every once in a while, you’ll see a coffee labeled “peaberry”. What is that? Is it better? Do I want that or not?
Coffee grows as a cherry. The “beans” that we make that wonderful elixir from are really the seed inside the cherry. Normally, there are 2 seeds in each coffee cherry. This is why coffee beans are flat on one side. The flat sides of the seeds are against each other inside the coffee cherry.
Once in a while, a coffee cherry only has one seed inside. This single seed is referred to as a “peaberry”. They tend to be more round in shape than a typical coffee bean because of the fact that they don’t grow with another seed to make one side flat.
The two photos below are both green, unroasted coffees. The first one is a peaberry. You can see that it's more rounded than the second one - which is flat on each side.
Seeds (or beans, in the case of coffee), are energy storehouses. Growing things store stuff in seeds so they can use it in difficult times like bad weather. The coffee cherry puts lots of natural chemical goodness into the seed that results in the flavors we get in coffee.
The theory is this: A coffee cherry with only one seed in it is storing up EXTRA goodness in that one seed. So a peaberry should be extra flavorful compared to a “normal” coffee bean.
The reality is, it depends. We’ve tasted good peaberry coffees, bad peaberry coffees and peaberry coffees that once were really good but were roasted incorrectly and the end result is a bad peaberry.
It doesn’t hurt to try it! Some of our favorite coffees include peaberries from Tanzania and Kenya. These definitely fall in the “good” peaberry category. (go ahead and search for any peaberry coffees we might have in stock now!)
When you see a photo like this one, with lots of people (typically women) sitting around picking through green coffee beans, one of the things they’re doing is sorting out the peaberries. If you want to appreciate that a little bit more, dump out that pound of beans you just bought and sort through them individually to see if there are any bad or broken ones.
Yeah – hard work. That’s what we thought too.