A Peaberry Coffee Confession

A small confession.

Okay, maybe a big one.

I’m Geoff and … *sigh* … there’s a coffee I like.

To those who know me as a “tea”-totaler, it may come as a shock to you, but I actually started off as a coffee drinker. During my latter years of college, I worked graveyard shift at a hotel. Even then, my young, supple body couldn’t stave off sleepiness for long. The mystical powers of caffeine had to help eventually.

So, naturally, I brewed a pot on shift. For many months, this worked just fine. The coffee wasn’t…great. (Up ‘til now, no coffee had.) On one unfortunate, sleep-deprived night, though, I brewed a batch at double-strength. It led do a three-day “flu”.

That put me off coffee for years.

In the interim, I became a tea guy. To some of my friends, I was THE tea guy. But even in my most snobby of moments, I admitted there was room for coffee’s existence. The occasional dark roast did make it into my cup. Those moments were rare, but they were there. Much to the chagrin of some of my tea brethren and sistren.

Still, there was nothing I truly loved about coffee. It tasted like burnt blackness with a hint of fire-swill. For the most part. Then…I encountered one that changed my palate opinion. And I have this li’l f**ker to blame.

My cousin, Jason, introduced me to peaberry coffee. What is that, you ask? I’ll friggin’ tell you.

It’s crack. Roasted. Crack. But more specifically…

A coffee “cherry” generally only has two beans (or “seeds”) in it at the time of plucking. They are usually ovular (I think?) and flat-facing. Every once in a while, though, only one of the beans is fertilized, but the other doesn’t flatten. Think of it like a normal chicken egg…but without the chick. That is a peaberry or “caracoli” bean. These are oftentimes collected to create a different type of single origin coffee. Many different regions produce and sort peaberry coffee - Hawaii and Tazmania for examples.

I’m not sure what happens between bean plucking and roasting, but whatever it is, voodoo must be involved. To a staunch tea drinker, coffee cannot taste that good. I likened it - in tea-ish terms - to a black tea from Yunnan province, China made up of gold-tipped, fully-oxidized leaf buds. The taste was even similar, if roasted.

Peaberry coffee - at least, the Ehiopian arabica, medium dark roast stuff my cousin fed me - tasted like burnt lotus blossoms by way of a burly Assam tea brewed as a concentrate. Floral, chewy, and painfully addicting. Oddly enough, it wasn’t as jitter-inducing as other coffees I’ve had. Nor was it as offensively astringent. This might be due to the anecdotal claim that the rounder bean roasts more evenly compared to its flatter siblings.

I’m convinced my cousin fed me this stuff so that I’d never ask for an actual wage when we worked together. We hammered out a book outline, and the start of a new comic project. And that was only on one cup of the stuff. Keep in mind, I was already tea-caffeinated for the day.

What can I say, I’m a peaberry whore now.

First cup’s always free.

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Saturday, September 21st, 2013 Beverage Blog

12 Comments to A Peaberry Coffee Confession

  1. Ha, Geoff, you’re not the only tea drinker par excellence who also sips coffee. One certain - uh - devoted - person drinks that bean stuff too. He confessed in a blog post once, a long time ago. I don’t drink coffee but I love the smell of ground coffee beans in the mornings when my parents come to visit!

  2. Jackie on September 21st, 2013
  3. Yep, I know of “The Devoted One”-’s predilection to a good cup o’ coffee. And I’ve enjoyed a few as well. But never fell in love with one ’til now.

  4. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 21st, 2013
  5. I too have fallen pretty to the peaberry! I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker but that stuff is so good!

  6. Naomi on September 21st, 2013
  7. I know! I saw your cupboard. That stuff is…gaaaaah!

    It’s the Yunnan Jin Cha of coffee.

  8. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 21st, 2013
  9. There is nothing one could do to coffee to make me like it, I do not like the smell, taste or anything about it. I say that I never grew up but I have not liked the smell since I was a kid….I think it maybe because I had to clean the coffee pot and the grinds were disgusting back then. Oh, well I know a lot of people like it. I will stick with tea!!
    I know I am not saying anything you have not heard from me before! :)

  10. Margo Hutchinson on September 21st, 2013
  11. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I will stick with my tea. I’m of no mind to buy a coffee machine, a grinder, coffee, coffee filters.

    Tea is just leaves and a cup. Far less work.

  12. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 21st, 2013
  13. Just to clarify, when one of the “beans” (coffee beans are actually seeds)does not take, the other develops in a pea shape. The theory is that as it is spherical it roasts more evenly.
    Any coffee can come as a peaberry, but it has to be hand sorted, which is indicative of higher quality coffee.
    I have roasted Kona peaberry myself. The verdict: It’s coffee.

  14. Robert Godden (The Devotea) on September 21st, 2013
  15. Yep, knew coffee beans were the seeds in the cherry, hence the mention of one not being fertilized - thus not gaining the typical shape. I also knew that many different regions do peaberry coffee. (Kawaii, Tanzania, Ethiopia…etc.) The Ethiopian one is just the one I could remember. I’ll do some edits to clarify.

    I’ve had normal Kona coffee. Verdict: It’s…almost as good as tea.

  16. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 21st, 2013
  17. And

  18. Jo on September 21st, 2013
  19. And…still a tea person.

  20. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 22nd, 2013
  21. How was the Peaberry coffee prepared? I ask because using a Chemex coffee pour over method produces a cup like that… not jittery, not astringent. Just curious :)

  22. Samantha Joyce on September 24th, 2013
  23. I have no idea. Standard coffee machine, I think. I’d have to ask.

  24. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 25th, 2013

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