What is Peaberry Coffee (and why is it so special)?
While visiting a Kona coffee farm, or browsing a selection of estate-grown Kona coffee, you may have seen the term “peaberry” come up and wondered, “what is peaberry coffee?” This rare, and often misunderstood, coffee bean is a special part of coffee harvest time, and a real treat (it’s called the “champagne of coffee” for a reason!). Learn all about peaberry coffee below:
What is Peaberry Coffee?
A peaberry is a natural mutation of a regular coffee cherry, containing only one coffee seed (bean) instead of the usual two. While not unheard of, this mutation is extremely rare: peaberries only make up about 5% or less of a coffee crop. The “peaberry” gets its name because of its uniquely round, pea shape. Regular coffee beans are more oblong, and made up of two halves, similar to a peanut. The peaberry mutation is rounder, smaller and more dense.
History of the Kona Peaberry
Not long ago, the peaberry was considered the “runt” fruit, and discarded. With their smaller size and rounder shape, these beans would roast differently and therefore reduce the quality of regular Kona coffee. Interestingly, no one knows why, or how, the peaberry occurs. It’s simply a random mutation. Breeders therefore cannot develop exclusive peaberry or peaberry-free coffee trees. It’s just part of the mystery and allure of this special little coffee bean.
What does Peaberry Taste Like?
Peaberry coffee has a similar profile to the regular beans of the tree it shared, but is distinctly different. As one coffee review puts it: “Typically, peaberry is more buoyant and more brightly acidy, more complex in the upper aromatic ranges of the profile but somewhat lighter in body, than comparable normally shaped beans.”
Why is Kona Peaberry Coffee More Expensive?
Coffee enthusiasts looking for the “champagne of coffee” will quickly find that peaberry coffee is more expensive, by around $5-10 per pound. This is due to the rarity of this exquisite coffee. Not only are peaberries hard and unpredictable to find, they require hand sorting, separate roasting, and careful handling.