Let’s talk coffee bean sizing and grading, particularly Peaberrys. Before we get into everything, let’s take a step back and talk about coffee cherries! Coffee beans start as a red fruit called a “coffee cherry”, the coffee bean is inside its fleshy skin like the pit of a cherry. Why coffee is referred to as a bean and not a fruit is another topic. But when the coffee cherries develop, typically two beans form inside and grow back to back giving one side a flat surface and the other side a round surface like you’d typically know coffee beans to appear. This is less commonly referred to as a flat berry.
With Peaberrys, they have a unique shape and size and are sold in their own particular grade. They naturally occur when only one coffee bean develops inside the cherry resulting in a pea shaped coffee bean. Only about 5-10% of coffee cherries form into Peaberrys and aren't found until the coffee is processed and sorted. The sorting is generally done by hand resulting in a more labour intensive task.
Now you are probably wondering what makes the Peaberrys so special and sometimes sought after? Many believe by developing on its own, the Peaberry gets more nutrients and has a brighter and more pleasant taste. Just like any coffee bean a Peaberry does not automatically make it a delicious coffee. There are good and bad Peaberrys but generally if it’s from a good lot of coffee, it will taste ever so slightly better than it’s regular counterpart flat berries.
What makes Peaberrys more expensive? There are a couple factors that reflect on the price, the low yield of only 5-10% of coffee cherries turning into Peaberrys and the extra sorting required to separate the beans. The final product results in a more labour intensive and expensive coffee. Once a roaster buys the green Peaberry coffee there are special practices to roasting and developing the Peaberry into the final cup. All of this combined creates a unique batch of coffee not only visually but down to the roast and taste in the final cup.
To summarize this all up, Peaberrys are a round coffee bean that is sorted and roasted into a delicious more bright cup of coffee!