Featured Bean of the Week: Tanzanian Peaberry – Blackburn Estates

Blackburn Estate, Tanzania from Jonathan's Picasa

Blackburn Estate, Tanzania from Jonathan's Picasa

We were excited to hear from Alexarc at Maniac Roasting that he had an African coffee coming in: the Tanzanian Peaberry from Blackburn Estates. This small coffee farm is situated in along the border of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Once part of the Serengeti National Park, not far from the Olduvai Gorge, this area is home to most of the wildlife associated with Africa: elephants, rhino, zebras, hippos and lions. In fact, one of the greatest challenges to growing coffee in this region is protecting the water supply for the coffee plants from trampling of elephants and water buffalo.

Trampled Plant

From Atlas Importers: "Blackburn, and many of the other farms bordering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area fear elephants and water buffalo damage even more than CBD--here's evidence of the previous night's trampling."

With all of this in mind, to hold a freshly roasted / freshly ground cup of this Tanzanian bean in your hands is a remarkable experience. Add to this that it is a peaberry, a sort of exclusive formation of singly fertilized bean where one bean forms instead of two -  most often thought to concentrate the flavor profile of the coffee.

The aroma is strong, redolent of cinnamon and a light pepper. The coffee itself is bright with an almost syrupy mouthfeel. John remarked on notes of peach. It certainly was one of the sweeter coffees we have had in to the shop: juicy, almost fruity in intensity. Exceptionally clean finish.  If you enjoy the classic berry, fruity flavors of African coffees, you will love this peaberry from Blackburn Estates.

Location: Blackburn Estate from Ngorogoro. On the western slopes of Mount Oldeani in Northern Tanzania, East Africa. [1]
Predominant Varietals: Bourbon, Nyassa
Species: Arabica
Elevation: 1,760m to 1,950m
Climate: Tropical
Soil conditions: Volcanic
Processing method: Wet
Drying method: Sun-dried on screens
Harvest period: October to February
Acidity: High

Tanzanian Peaberry at Maniac Roasting

Tanzanian Peaberry at Maniac Roasting

From Wikipedia: Peaberry:

Peaberry, also known as caracoli, is a type of coffee bean. Normally the fruit of the coffee plant develops as two halves of a bean within a single cherry, but sometimes only one of the two seeds gets fertilized so there is nothing to flatten it. This oval (or pea-shaped) bean is known as Peaberry. Typically around 5% of all coffee beans harvested are of this form.

Normal coffee beans are less commonly called by contrast flat berry.

Peaberry coffees are particularly associated with Tanzanian Coffee, although the peaberry variety of Kona coffee has also become quite prominent.

Roasted Peaberries

Roasted Peaberries

From Origin Coffee Roasting – much more excellent information after the jump:

Blackburn Estate lies along the southern border of the Ngorongoro Crater, a haven for wildlife and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Animals are entirely free to wander beyond the unfenced park boundaries – lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and many other species roam through the coffee and forest areas of the farm at night. There are also two large troops of baboons numbering more than 100 individuals that occasionally roost overnight in the large mature trees at the north-west boundary of the coffee area though efforts are always made to discourage these animals as they eat the coffee!

The farm is overshadowed by Mount Oldeani (meaning ‘bamboo mountain’) to the east which stands at 3,188m and covers a total area of 455 hecatares (1,124 acres). Most of the land is set aside as natural habitats such as savannah, grassland and thick bush. This, in turn, supports a huge variety of wildlife species.

Around the farm, several small pyres of coffee parchment and red chillies are set on the windward boundaries of the coffee plots to deter elephants from damaging the coffees plants. Special bio-corridors have also been established to funnel the larger animals around the farm to the east and west.

The areas under coffee are located at an altitude of 1,760m to 1,950m. Coffee represents only around 187 acres (16%) of the whole farm.

Green Peaberries at Maniac Roasting

Green Peaberries at Maniac Roasting

From Mercata – the Coffee Hunters | A Visit to Blackburn Estate:

Michael Gehrken is an unlikely coffee farmer. Born in Germany, he originally wanted to be an artist, trained as an economist (at his father’s insistence), and worked as an art dealer. When he arrived in Tanzania in 1983, with orders to turn around his father’s neglected estate and then return home, he had no farming experience, no Swahili and shaky English: “I didn’t know the difference between wheat and barley, or coffee and tea.”

However, after spending some time with him on the farm, his trajectory starts to make more sense – at Blackburn Michael has made both a science and an art of coffee farming. His attention to detail is remarkable – he has painstaking records of every piece of data you could wish for; he uses cutting edge GPS technology to map each lot; he zealously micromanages every stage of production; he has an economist’s understanding of market forces. And at the same time, he has created and nurtured an incredibly beautiful, pesticide-free environment where nature happily exists alongside agriculture – what Michael calls a “green corridor” between the exposed brown earth of neighboring farms.


View larger map

Panorama view of Ngorongoro Crater.

Panorama view of Ngorongoro Crater.

About Scot Casey

Owner/ Poetic Terrorist / Barista / Graphic Designer at The Black Drop Coffee House. Also, Hermit / Recluse in Residence at Laughing Bone Design Labs
This entry was posted in Beans, Coffee. Bookmark the permalink.