A peaberry coffee bean results from a coffee cherry (fruit) producing just one relatively round (football-shaped) seed (bean) as opposed to the usual two half-beans which are roundish on one side and flat on the other side.
The peaberry has a reputation for having a better or more intense flavor profile. This may be the case some of the time but other times the peaberry will be no better than a flat bean from the same crop. One advantage that peaberries do have is that since they are rounded they do roast a little more evenly and a little easier, but this is only advantageous for novice coffee roasters.
This is especially important in the case of rustic roasting methods where agitation may not be as thorough as in more modern roasters. This is one reason that it is believe that peaberries have a traditional reputation for superior quality.
Ultimately, peaberries aren't much different from their smaller siblings - the flavors will be very similar (coming from the same trees). The primary difference is to the roaster, who may have an easier time developing a consistent roast from a uniformly sized coffee bean.
Sorting and Grading
Peaberry coffee beans are typically separated from the rest of the coffee crop and sold as a higher grade of coffee bean.
The process is labor intensive and typically only makes sense for countries where the coffee has a good reputation to begin with, and therefore the demand for a premium or special grade of coffee bean justifies the investment in picking them out and selling them separately.
From one to nine percent of any crop are peaberry, and they are said to have a higher density and more concentrated, robust flavor, rich aroma and with a distinct acidity - brighter yet lighter - than non-peaberry coffee beans from the same crop.
Peaberry Coffee Notes
Peaberry coffee beans, which are also called caracol coffee beans or caracolillo coffee beans, are considered the “champagne of coffee beans.”
Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips
Also check out the evolution of coffee and espresso recounted in detail in our World's Best History of Coffee.
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