The Kenyan Peaberry is considered a superior bean. Inside the red cherry it grows alone, which is a natural mutation with a rounder shape and supposed greater density.
All the flavours from the coffee cherry are condensed into one bean as opposed to two. The ‘Peaberry’ shape also related to the way its roasted, with the rounder beans rolling around the inside of the roasting drum easier allowing for a more even roast.
What Makes Kenyan Peaberry Coffee so Special?
Fans of this special variation of coffee bean say that Peaberry is notably sweeter and more flavourful than normal beans.
What normally happens is two beans grow flat against each other into a fruit, like two halves of a circle. What happens with Peaberry’s is that they grow alone, forming the circle themselves and that is why they are so round.
Because it is not detectable when looking at the outside of the cherry whether it is two halves or a peaberry, these special beans must be handpicked by growers during processing, which is why they are so exclusive.
Also, only 5% of beans experience this mutation, which adds even more to the exclusivity as there are limited quantities.
As mentioned previously, Peaberry’s have a much more efficient roasting process because of their ability to roll around, allowing for a much more even roasting. This translates to the flavour of the coffee and results in a well-balanced finish.
The History of Kenyan Coffee
Around 70% of all this country’s coffee is produced by small-scale farmers.
Considering its proximity to Ethiopia, where coffee originated, it is surprising that it was not cultivated in Kenya until 1893. It was apparently introduced by Roman Catholic Fathers who grew the plants at St Austin’s near Nairobi. It is now the country’s fourth biggest export earner after tourism, tea and horticulture.
Initially, coffee was grown primarily on large British-run farms that had a very unpleasant odour, which is why they were relocated to the mountains.
In 1933 Kenya enforced the Coffee Act which established the Coffee Board of Kenya and their own auction system, taking the power away from London who back then owned most of the farms. This is was a great success for the country and is the reason Kenyans now own the majority of production.
Kenyan Coffee Tasting Notes
Arabica is the predominate type of bean produced here. While beans harvested from any region will differ from farm-to-farm, it is known for its distinct characteristics.
It is unique, as it is very well balanced at the same time as being also very complex. It is powerful, with a distinct wine tone and juicy notes of blackcurrant. When brewing you might notice a delicate floral aroma. Enjoy black or with a splash or milk, whichever you prefer.