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What Is Peaberry?


Cherry Most coffee cherries contain two beans of approximately equal size.  The two beans grow squished together in the same cherry so they look like two halves.  Occasionally one of the two beans is never fertilized or is damaged early in development so the other bean grows by itself without being squished into a half bean shape.  This single, small, pea-shaped bean is called peaberry and only occurs in about 3-5% of the total crop.

Since peaberry beans are round there are no edges to get over cooked or burned in the roasting process.  Roasting a batch of nothing but peaberry makes is possible to get every part of every bean roasted to the exact same level.  This has given peaberry a reputation for being smoother in flavor than most other coffee.  Roasting has a big effect on cupping quality so anything that affects the roasting process can easily affect the final quality of the coffee.  It's too bad peaberry is such a tiny percentage of the total crop.

During the milling process, coffee beans are usually sorted by size and density.  The largest beans and highest grade of coffee is called Extra Fancy, then Fancy, Number 1, Select and finally Prime.  Any coffee that does not meet the standards for Prime or better does not qualify as Kona coffee.  Larger wholesalers often purchase coffee of a specific grade but most consumers don't know or care about the various grades.

Kona Earth
Estate Coffee
Extra Fancy56
Fancy 23
Number 1 9
Prime 6
Peaberry 4
Off Grade 2
For a small farm like us, trying to keep a supply of all the various roasts of all the various grades would inevitably lead to some coffee sitting on our shelves.  Freshness is far more important than grade so we don't normally separate our roasted coffee into all the various grades, instead we remove the defective beans then leave the rest all mixed together in what is called Estate Grade.  Looking at the natural mix of beans it's easy to see that approximately 1 in 25 of the beans are peaberry.  Coffee beans expand and split open when they're roasted, kind of like popcorn, but the peaberry are still smaller and round.

Every so often we will sort a batch of coffee by grade for quality control purposes.  In bad years, weak trees will produce mostly prime and off grade coffee.  Some farms hardly ever get any Extra Fancy beans.  Our higher elevation means cooler weather with more rain so our trees are healthy and the coffee beans grow slower and larger.  As you can see from the chart to the left, our trees are producing a very high percentage of the large Extra Fancy beans.

The relatively small supply combined with the high demand makes peaberry more expensive and more difficult to find, especially 100% Kona Peaberry.  We try to keep some in stock when possible but it runs out quickly.  We usually roasted our Peaberry to a Full City roast which is a very popular roast half way between our Medium and Dark roasts.  You'll have to check our shop page to see if we have any Peaberry in stock.  If we do, hurry, because it is always a very limited supply and there's no telling when we'll have any Peaberry available again.

100% Kona Peaberry
Kona Peaberry

Peaberry is found in less than 5% of the total crop.  With its extra smooth taste, this small round bean is considered the best of the best.  Because of its rarity we only have a limited supply and frequently run out.

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