About The Coffee Bean

The Coffee Cherry (Coffee Bean)

The coffee fruit is called a cherry primarily because it is about the same size, shape and color as an actual cherry. Beneath the bright red skin is the pulp, a sweet, sticky yellow substance, which becomes slimy mucilage towards the center of the fruit, where it surrounds the coffee beans, which are actually the seeds. There are normally two beans per cherry, facing each other's flat side, like peanut halves. On the surface of the beans is a very thin, diaphanous membrane, called the silver skin. Each bean (and its silver skin) is encased in a tough, cream-colored, protective bean-shaped shell, or jacket, called parchment, or pergamino, which serves to keep the bean separate from the mucilage. Beans destined to be seed beans for growing new coffee plants must remain in their parchment if they are to sprout.

Normal coffee trees sometimes produce a few smaller-than-average cherries in which only one bean forms. This single bean, called variously a peaberry, perla or caracol, will not have a flat side; rather, it will be small and almost completely round. Sorted out and collected together, peaberries sell at a slightly higher price than do normal coffee beans from the same trees. many people swear that the peaberry flavor is better, although it may just be that, because of the special sorting, few, if any, defective beans are able to slip through.


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