What is Peaberry Coffee?

In this quick article, I will attempt to explain exactly what peaberry coffee is and why some people value it at significantly higher prices than other coffee?

During my time visiting coffee farmers in Minas Gerais, Brazil, I came across several examples of peaberries (commonly referred to as “moka” here). I wanted to know why they looked different from regular coffee beans and what that meant for the final product.

Coffee beans come from cherries. Usually, each cherry has two beans inside of it, and the resulting beans each have a flat side. However, sometimes a mutation occurs and the cherry comes with only one bean, usually larger and rounder.

Left: Peaberry. Right: Normal coffee bean. (source)

Because of the size and shape differences, some people prefer to roast these two types of beans separately. With an increased density, peaberries will contribute to an uneven flavor profile if roasted in the same batch as the flat beans.

While there isn’t extensive research to back this claim, others claim that roasting peaberries on their own leads to a more even roast throughout the beans as compared to the flat beans.

While there is definitely a taste difference between peaberry beans and flat beans of the same coffee tree, there is little to guarantee the consistency of this. Many argue that peaberries taste better because they have lighter bodies with higher sweetness; however, peaberry beans do have more caffeine content.

Peaberries make up about 5-10% of all coffee cherries. It’s a regular abnormality that happens naturally. If this is true, why is it marketed as being “special”, and thus coming with a higher price tag?

It is true that sorting peaberries from the other green coffee beans to be roasted separately takes a lot of time and effort. That being said, beware of people claiming that the taste of the coffee will be significantly better because of the peaberries. The taste of your coffee depends heavily on the variety, how it was grown, the origin, the climate, the roast profile, freshness, and how you brew it. This tiny difference in shape shouldn’t make too much of a difference (in my humble opinion).

That being said… don’t take my word for it! Go try some yourself, test it out, and make a decision after trying it personally. Then message me and tell me what you think!

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