Right now we happen to have a lot of peaberry coffees. Well, three. Three is a lot for us because we’re a small roaster. We didn’t plan to have all of these at the same time, but since we do we decided to put together a little package of all of them for maximum fun!
A peaberry is a rounded shaped bean that looks like this -->
This occurs when one seed forms inside the coffee instead of the normal two. The thought is that there is more “energy” and good yummy juicy flavor going towards the one seed. Even if that is the case, a peaberry lot that is created from a bad lot of coffee will not make delicious coffee. Just as much care and work needs to go into the coffee to make a delicious cup. Peaberry is not a variety, it is a deformation—it can happen with any variety of coffee.
Besides being a fun shape, they also have a higher density, which can lead to more impactful flavors. This also means they need a little more encouragement in the roast to get to a proper roasted state. In general, higher density coffees make for an awesome roasting experience because you have a lot more material to work with—the window of time during development that you have to really manipulate the roast to bring out different flavors is much larger in a higher density coffee. That being said, those flavors aren’t necessarily coming out with their most ideal roast profile when they’re mixed in with the flat bean, likely they’re getting under-roasted. So, we should probably be separating all the peaberries out from a lot, then roasting the peaberry separately on the sample roaster because it might only be 15 beans, then blending back in with the rest of the lot for maximum post-roast blending specialness.
I’m completely joking. That is so ridiculous. Coffee is density sorted in the dry milling stage, which allows for a more uniform lot—but coffee is not perfect and there does have to be a practical limit for how much is done to an amount of coffee.
Along with the density differences, I’ve also heard that folks sometimes consider peaberries ideal for roasting because of the round shape—they roll around in the roaster better and there’s less contact time and surface area that touches the drum wall. That’s technically true, but in a properly loaded drum (not crowded or too little coffee) rotating at the proper speed, normal flat bean coffees roast just as well.
Peaberries need to be sorted out by hand (with assistance from screen sorting) which is one reason they sometimes cost more. These rolly guys used to be considered defects. When did these go from being considered a defect to being special? Probably sometime in 10th grade. Just kidding. Actually I have no idea, and if there is any coffee person out there who can direct me to the article with that answer, please do.
Hand sorting at the Toarco mill in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia
We don’t pick coffees for our offerings because simply they’re peaberries. These coffees are treated just like any other coffee, and scored without the assumption they’re going to taste better. One of the fun things about the peaberry coffees we’re offering right now is that two of them (the Toarco and the El Meridiano) are lots made from coffees we regularly offer and know really well. I think it’s neat to isolate this aspect of the coffee to experience for just a short time to understand how one component (a very small one) contributes to the flavor of the coffee. In the last case, the Brazil Mariano, we cupped the flat bean lot against the peaberry lot and by comparison cupping and brewing we decided we liked the peaberry lot better.
Anyway, enjoy these delicious “defect” special seed coffees! Here are the direct links to each of the ones we’re currently offering:
Colombia El Meridiano Peaberry
Brazil Mariano Peaberry
Or buy them together with the Sulawesi Toarco Peaberry in a three pack.