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What is Peaberry Coffee?

A Curious Bean

In the world of coffee, one can discover all sorts of rare, exotic, and interesting things. Decaf coffee beans galore, new coffee concoctions hailing from Seoul to New York to Havana to Touba, coffee beans from elephant rubbish, or coffee cherry skins brewed into a sweet tea. One coffee rarity, in particular, is certainly the peaberry coffee bean. But what is this peculiar little bean and why is it special? Also, does it come as a decaf coffee bean?

A little bit of botany!

Let us begin with the coffee plant. The coffee plant produces charming little ruby-red coffee cherries. These cherries can be eaten as is, but when the fruit is removed the interior seeds make for an excellent elixir known as “coffee”! But inside the coffee cherry, usually, two seeds develop side by side next to each other. This leads to the seeds developing into what most of us imagine when we think of coffee seeds, one flat side with a kind of rounded side, like a little boat.

On rare occasions, however, a special mutation can occur. This mutation is when only one seed rather than two develop inside the pit of the coffee cherry. This results in the seed being a little bit smaller, a little bit denser, and having a completely round appearance. Think of a coffee bean that resembles more of a rugby ball or American football than the typical coffee seed.

This can occur in only 5 to 10 percent of coffee seeds and most often in Arabica seeds hailing from Jamaica, Brazil, Kenya, Kona in Hawaii, and Tanzania. This is why one might find “Tanzania Peaberry” as a coffee bean option when shopping for beans. Peaberry can occur in Robusta beans and in beans outside of Jamaica, Brazil, Kenya, Kona, and Tanzania but those are the most common places where peaberry beans are found.

What's in a name?

Originally, these beans were known as caracolillo which is Spanish for “little snail”. The reasoning? Well, because the beans look like little snails of course! But the English name, “peaberry” is also just as simple. The reasoning behind this unique name? The coffee seeds look a little bit like peas. Oh, and they come from a berry or coffee cherry. But what else is there to know about peaberry coffee beans?

How do they taste?

One of the big selling points for Peaberry is not just its rarity, but also its perceived superior taste. Many claim peaberry coffee beans possess a sweeter, lighter, brighter, and more illuminated acidity than standard beans.

Some coffee experts may contend with this claim. It is hard to say if peaberry beans are superior to standard beans. The reason being that most peaberry beans come from coffee crops that are already artisanally grown and cultivated in conditions ideal to arabica beans in particular. This means that most peaberry would be exquisite even if they did not undergo the peaberry mutation. But, as always, the only way to know for sure is to test these beans out oneself!

Does it come in decaf?

The most important question about peaberry coffee beans is do they come in decaf form or not? Luckily, the answer is, “yes”! Peaberry, especially many Tanzanian peaberry beans can be found in decaf coffee bean form. This means decaf lovers and standard coffee lovers alike can discover these truly remarkable and novel coffee beans firsthand. We certainly hope you do, happy brewing!