A delicious mutation that every coffee lover should have an awareness of. If you are reading this post, a couple of assumptions could be made; you know what roasted coffee beans looks like and you understand that not all coffee is equal in quality.
Normally, during every picking season, millions of coffee cherries are removed from the coffee trees on farms around the world. These cherries are the fruit of the tree and contain what we all know as the coffee bean. Typically, two beans are fertilized in each cherry. These two beans effectively come out as one large bean with a split down the middle with a flattened appearance. This is what most people notice when they open a bag of whole bean coffee.
There is another possibility. One that is more rare, and in many cases, more delicious. Sometimes, there is a mutation in the coffee cherry that causes only one of the beans to become fertilized. This ends up creating a more round, smaller bean known as a peaberry. Peaberry coffee beans are relatively rare compared to that of the traditional bean. In fact, approximately as little as 5-15% of cherries from each harvest contains peaberries. So what makes a mutation so special besides it's rarity?
When you compare the two beans side by side, you notice the stark contrast in shape and size. The traditional bean commonly has the flat appearance, as mentioned earlier. This creates hot-spots on the bean during the roasting process. If a roaster isn't careful, it can create a more inconsistent roast throughout the bean, impacting the flavor. A peaberry is smaller and more round. This causes the bean to roll and tumble easier during the roasting process, causing a more even roast. In addition, the peaberry beans have a higher density compared to that of traditional beans which improves heat transfer throughout the bean during roasting.
Another quality that makes peaberry coffee so special is how the coffee is processed. Peaberries have to be separated from the traditional berries. This is often a laborious process that takes a lot of time. As a product of having to carefully separate the peaberries from the traditional beans, there is more of an opportunity to ensure only quality beans are being selected for roasting.
Lastly, a lot of coffee drinkers say that peaberry coffee is sweeter and more flavorful than traditional beans. This may vary depending on the individual. All of that being said, everyone can agree that peaberry coffee is special and unique. There are definitely benefits to selecting peaberry coffee when deciding the bean type. So if you haven't given it a shot, try it and tell us what you think!