A beginners guide to coffee: Tanzania peaberry

August 12, 2017

After spending some time in the lush slopes of the Mauna Loa, we’re heading back to Africa, the birthplace of coffee, to look at one of the more unique and unusual beans out there: Tanzanian Peaberry.

For whatever reason, Tanzanian coffee is pretty much always associated with peaberry coffee beans despite the fact that these beans can and do grow in many regions around the world. Regardless, any coffee fan should try peaberry beans at least once in their life, and if so, why not try some grown in Tanzania?

Region and history

 

Peaberry-hero

Coffee beans were first brought over to Tanzania from Ethiopia in the 16th century. Until the arrival of German colonial forces in the 19th century, coffee was used primarily as a stimulant and bean cultivation was under the strict control of tribal leaders. As the region was colonised, coffee production began to rise.

Now, coffee is Tanzania’s largest export crop and accounts for 3.3% of the country’s net exports. Tanzania is the 15 largest coffee producing country in the world and responsible for about 0.6% of worldwide coffee production.

Growing conditions

 

Peaberry-cherrys

Tanzanian peaberry is grown throughout the countr; however, the majority is grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. Most coffee in the region is grown on small mountainside farms, or fincas, although a few large plantations do exist. Tanzanian peaberry is grown at an elevation of between 4500 and 6000 feet.

Peaberry

 

Peaberry-beans

As we have already mentioned, peaberry coffee beans are grown around the world. However, most likely as a result of branding, Tanzania and peaberry are now inextricably linked.

Usually, coffee cherries contain two seeds, or beans, flat on one side and rounded on the other. In the case of peaberries, only one seed is fertilised. This results in a single round seed with a ridge down the middle.

Peaberries are considered by some to be superior in quality and taste from regular flat beans. The reasons for this are twofold: The single bean contains all the flavor intensity of two beans, and the round shape of the beans results in a more even roast. While the first assumption has little basis in fact, it is true that the rounded shape of the beans does aid the roasting process. The perceived high quality of peaberry coffee is most likely as a result of the sorting process, which is more rigorous than that used to sort flat beans.

Flavor profile

 

Peaberry-drying

One thing is certain, a cup of pure peaberry coffee will not taste the same as flat bean coffee, even if the beans came from the same tree. Tanzanian peaberry coffee is known for its intense brightness and high acidity. Conversely, the coffee is medium- bodied and best enjoyed at a medium roast.

Along with a rich, chocolate flavor, Tanzanina peaberry also has hints of dark fruits like blackcurrant, and a soft, sweet finish. Drinkers can also expect to taste floral notes and hints of citrus fruit, coconut, and pineapple.

Like most African coffees, Tanzanian peaberry can be enjoyed hot or iced.

Food pairings

 

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Tanzanian peaberry pairs beautifully with fruit, particularly tangy and tropical fruits like pineapple, berries, and passion fruit. The tartness of the fruit will contrast well with the rich tones of the coffee.

For the more adventurous, a cup of cold brewed peaberry with its bright acidity would pair nicely with pan seared fish and zesty summer salads.

James Aitchison