This past weekend, I enjoyed yet another awesome coffee tasting at the Fire Roasted Coffee Company (FRCC) in London, Canada. For $10, anybody could walk in and sample seven different exotic coffees from around the world. The FRCC is one of my favorite spots in the city to hit on a regular basis. You shouldn’t have too much stock of coffee in your house at any time, so a weekly or bi-weekly trip to your local roaster ensures you have fresh coffee all the time.
This past Saturday, the subject of the tasting was Peaberry Coffee.
What is Peaberry Coffee
The pit of a coffee cherry is made up of two coffee beans. That is, about 95% of the time. Both sides of the seed in the other 4-5% of coffee cherry do not both fertilize and as a result, the cherry only yields a single rounded oval-shaped coffee bean. This is called the Peaberry. Once separated from the rest as defects, it was only a matter of time before somebody realized that no only does the peaberry bean make a great coffee, but one with a flavor slightly different than the regular bean from the same source.
Fire Roasted’s Peaberry Coffee Tasting
- Tanzanian Peaberry: I’ve bought this one from FRCC before and have always enjoyed it. It is one of Patrick’s picks. Bright and crisp, Tanzanian Peaberry is intentionally cultivated, as opposed to other sources that treat it as an afterthought. For that, the Tanzanian variety has a strong following.
- Cameroon Peaberry: A wilder coffee than the Tanzanian. The sample of green unroasted beans in front of the pot showed an inconsistent color throughout, with some of that inconsistency translating to the coffee itself. Still delicious, it had an earthy taste like an Ethiopian Harrar. This is the only one that I didn’t love – a tasting novice, I described it as “paper-y”, which Patrick and David pointed out would be terrible coffee marketing .
- Rwandan Peaberry: A tangier coffee than the previous two.
- Jamaican Blue Mountain: Not a peaberry, but Patrick wanted guests to compare the following coffee to this one. As I’ve heard more than once, for a coffee that fetches a premium, the Jamaican is no longer the prized coffee it once was.
- Jamaican Blue Mountain Peaberry: Roasted darker than the regular variety, it had a slightly different taste but hard to justify the premium, roughly the same as Hawaii Kona coffee, triple the price of regular coffee.
- Papua New Guinea Peaberry: Patrick’s pick of the bunch. Bright and clean.
- Papua New Guinea: Same roast and source as the previous, Patrick wanted guests to appreciate two great coffees.
What Makes Peaberry Different?
Patrick had some great insight into what makes peaberry coffee taste different:
- The rounded shape of the bean without a flat side makes for more even and consistent roasting.
- The same flavor characteristics are concentrated into the bean, capturing the “terroir” of the source. I won’t lie to you, I had to look up the word when I got home – often used to describe flavor in wine, terroir denotes the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestows upon the coffee.
- Finally, peaberries have to be individually hand-picked, meaning a tighter selection and more consistent quality.
Try a Peaberry coffee. I don’t find them commonly sold by the cup, but any good roaster sells pounds or half-pounds to take home.