Kona Peaberry Coffee: What Is It?

Kona Peaberry coffee on the beach with a view of Diamond Head in the back

Coffee folklore has it that the Peaberry is the best coffee from a coffee harvest. But is that really true? Join us in exploring the Peaberry, small but mighty!

What is Kona Peaberry Coffee?

A Peaberry is one of the rarest types of coffee beans in the world, and a Kona Peaberry even more so. Peaberry coffee develops when one seed (or coffee bean) forms inside of the coffee cherry instead of the usual 2 coffee beans. This happens to about 5% of the coffee harvest each year. That means that at our own farm in Kona, we only produce a little less than 2,000 pounds of Peaberry coffee each year. 

Each year, we sort the coffee beans by screen size, separating out smaller sizes 16-17 screen for the Kona Peaberry. The larger 18-19 screen coffee beans go to our Kona Extra Fancy Grade.

Roasted Kona coffee beans

What's Different About Kona Peaberry

The Peaberry coffee bean does develop more acidity and nuance compared to the rest of the crop. When one seed grows inside the cherry instead of two, the seed or coffee bean is usually more dense. Density can sometimes equate to more flavors and complexity in the cup.  

Peaberry coffee is rare as a rule and oftentimes can taste a little more complex (especially Kona Peaberry). For instance, in our Kona Peaberry, we taste milk chocolate, sweet spice, raw honey, and roasted hazelnuts. By comparison, in our Kona Estate Selection, we taste lilikoi, dark chocolate and raw honey. While the tastes are not dramatically different, there is a sense of novelty and rarity to go along with Kona Peaberry coffees. 

Ultimately, Peaberry coffees look quite different and interesting in whole bean form. They are smaller and more rounded than the typical coffee bean. Despite the differences, a Kona Peaberry isn’t “naturally” better than the other graded Kona beans of any given harvest, and requires careful harvesting, processing, and roasting, all of which Honolulu Coffee does, to bring you Kona from farm to cup.

Honolulu Coffee Peaberry Coffee in a Chemex

How to Make Kona Peaberry Coffee

The small but dense Kona Peaberry requires careful roasting. Due to its shape and density, this coffee bean can be tricky to figure out the ideal roasting profile–but ultimately rewarding. On our Experience Center’s cast-iron Probat roaster, we are careful to develop the Kona Peaberry with a light roast that helps to express the coffee’s natural flavor notes and nuances.

When compared to “normal” coffee beans from the same harvest and process, peaberries can be more “bright” in acidity, but also lighter bodied and with complex “higher” nuances of flavor and aroma.

We really like hand brewing the Kona Peaberry in a Chemex for these reasons. The increased density of the beans can impact your brew, so we suggest grinding a little coarser as the beans, when grinding, can produce more fines. 

Honolulu Coffee Kona Peaberry Coffee

Small But Mighty

We hope you’ll take a sip of our small but mighty Kona Peaberry in the near future, and experience all that our Kona coffee has to offer you, no matter the size.

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