Peaberry Coffee: Is It Worth the Hype?

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Peaberries are a rising star in the coffee world, commanding the attention — positive and negative — of coffee lovers around the world. But what are peaberry coffees and are they worth purchasing?

It’s time to prepare yourself to make the big decisions next time you see a peaberry in your local coffee shop or have the chance to buy some peaberry coffee beans to brew in your favorite coffee maker or espresso machine at home.

What Is a Peaberry Coffee Bean?

Normal flat coffee beans beside a coffee cherry

Peaberries are the bigger, sweeter cousin of regular coffee beans — they even grow on the same coffee plant. The majority of coffee cherry holds two seeds, what we know as the coffee beans. About 5-10% of coffee cherries have a natural mutation that causes them to grow only a single bean, and these beans are called peaberries.

Peaberry coffee beans have access to all of their nutrients of the coffee cherry they grow in, unlike normal beans that have to share their nutrient source with a twin. Since they don’t bump up against another bean, peaberries grow smaller, denser, and rounder than regular coffee beans. This rounder shape is what gives the peaberry its name.

What Is Peaberry Coffee?

Hand-sorting coffee beans by grade and maybe to separate the peaberries

Peaberry coffee is made exactly like regular coffee with one extra step — the removal of all the regular coffee beans from the batch. Due to the rarity of the peaberries and the extra processing needs, peaberry beans tend to be more expensive than regular beans from the same sources.

Is Peaberry Coffee Better Than Regular Coffee?

Peaberries and normal flat coffee beans shown side-by-side

Coffee lovers have harsh disagreements about whether peaberry coffee is worth the extra money. Peaberry fans claim that it is noticeable sweeter, more flavorful, and lighter than regular coffee. Other coffee drinkers claim they don’t see any difference in the flavor profile

The truth is that nobody really has a great answer to this yet. Peaberry coffee tends to be of higher quality, but that’s not because of the peaberries themselves. Instead, it’s because peaberry coffee is only typically offered by companies that are selling higher quality beans. After all, you wouldn’t want to waste all that extra processing time on sub-par coffee.

Popular Peaberry Origins

Every country that grows coffee will produce peaberries, but some regions have better facilities in place to separate peaberries from ordinary coffee beans.

You are far more likely to find peaberries in areas that grow premium coffees — like Tanzania and the Kona region of Hawaii. Large coffee producers like Brazil and Vietnam have also gotten in on the trend.

Here’s just a sampling of some of the best peaberry coffees from around the globe.

Hawaiian Kona peaberry coffee

Kona coffee beans often have sugar, chocolatey, and bright fruity flavors that are perfectly suited for peaberry varieties. Kona is one of the highest quality coffee varieties in the world, so Kona peaberry is just about as good as coffee can get.

Tanzanian peaberry coffee

Tanzanian coffee has vibrant, fruity acidity with rich flavors that often include black currants and chocolate. The extra sweetness from the peaberries is a perfect pairing with these characteristics, and Tanzania’s top-graded AA beans are absolutely high enough quality to deserve a Tanzania peaberry coffee variant.

Jamaican Blue Mountain peaberry coffee

Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee is nutty, herbal, floral, and whole-bodied. It’s also world-renowned for its smoothness, lack of bitterness, and high overall quality. Peaberry coffee takes the best aspects of real Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and dials them up to 11.

Kenya peaberry coffee

We already know that fruity coffees do well as peaberries, but Kenyan coffee’s mix of earthiness and fruitiness takes it to a whole new level. The earthiness adds a rich mouthfeel and full body to the delicate flavors that are elicited from the peaberries.

Brazil peaberry coffee

As the largest producer of coffee, it only makes sense that Brazilian coffee brands would turn to peaberry to broaden their appeal. Brazilian coffee has an intense sweetness, which is drawn out beautifully in the peaberries, perfectly pairing with the heavy bodies and caramel and chocolate notes the country’s beans are known for.

Costa Rican peaberry Coffee

Costa Rican coffee is synonymous with quality. Their tiny country went as far as outlawing non-Arabica coffee beans to keep their standards high — and it shows. The flavors of their coffees vary a lot from region to region, so Costa Rican peaberry offers a wide range of potential that is well worth exploring.

Vietnamese peaberry coffee

Vietnamese coffee brands lean heavily on Robusta, although they are starting to produce more Arabica beans in recent years. This presents a unique opportunity, as many of the more popular and higher-quality brands in the country have started releasing peaberry variants. The sweetness of the peaberries contrasts the typical bitterness of the Robusta, making it an easier introduction to Vietnamese coffees. 

Since Robusta beans are cheaper to produce, these are some of the cheapest peaberry coffees you can buy — but don’t expect the level of quality you’ll get from Arabica peaberries.

Don’t Ignore the Only Child

As you continue your journey — exploring all the world’s coffees — peaberries deserve a bit of extra attention for their rarity and the extra sweetness and flavor punch that they bring to every cup of coffee. Give them a shot, and let me know whether you think the berry is worth the hype.

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