Precious Peaberries: The Story of La Minita

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Just like summer, La Minita Peaberry only comes around once per year — and its comeback is a big occasion for longtime coffee lovers and new fans alike. La Minita is one of our most anticipated releases, year after year, and one taste will tell you exactly why.

This light roast blend is one of the most unique and rare coffees we offer at Caribou Coffee, and its story makes it all the more special. You may have experienced the exquisite flavor of La Minita before, but you probably don’t know the full story behind the beans or what makes this limited-edition coffee bean such a fan favorite. Grab a proverbial cup and discover everything you need to know about La Minita, from its origins to the many ways you can enjoy it at home or a ‘Bou near you.

The peaberry, explained

One of the (many) reasons we love coffee is because every cup, bean and brew has a story. From the worldwide locations where our beans are grown to the farmers who harvest them to the roasters who bring you your favorite Caribou Coffee beans, there’s a tale to tell at every step of the process. La Minita Peaberry has one of the most unique stories, which is one reason why it’s such a beloved member of our coffee lineup.

bag of la minita sitting on a kitchen countertop next to other kitchen accessories and tableware
La Minita is a necessity in any coffee lover’s pantry.

Our story begins deep in the rainforest at the Hacienda La Minita in Tarrazu Valley, Costa Rica.  Arabica coffee, which is what we roast at Caribou Coffee, is grown between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. At the Hacienda, the rare, precious peaberries are grown in optimal conditions with warm weather, rich soil and ideal elevation. Basically, Hacienda La Minita checks all the boxes for great coffee; that’s why we’ve partnered with the growers in this region for more than 25 years to bring you the finest single-origin coffees, including the tiny but flavor-packed peaberry. We believe in the Hacienda La Minita peaberry so much that we buy all of their crop!

But what, exactly, makes peaberries so special and rare? Peaberries occur when only one bean develops instead of the normal two. This solitary development allows the bean to soak up more flavor and gives them extra vibrancy, resulting in an intensified energy. While normally the nutrients would be split between two beans, peaberries get all the good stuff as they grow — and you can definitely taste the difference. While the peaberry may be smaller than the normal (or “flat”) bean, it packs a punch. They only occur about five percent of the time in coffee, making them extremely rare and treasured by growers and drinkers alike.

From Costa Rica to your home

Like all Caribou Coffee beans, La Minita Peaberry is 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified. Caribou Coffee has the world exclusive on the Hacienda La Minita peaberries, and the process to choosing the perfect beans is a meticulous and important one.

“There’s so much history with the farm,” says Green Coffee Sourcing Manager Brian Aliffi, who has been traveling to Hacienda La Minita farm for over 10 years. “There’s a big commitment to the quality of the work they do. The people take a lot of pride in the work and it shows up in the coffee.”

Once coffee beans are harvested at Hacienda La Minita, machines separate peaberries from the flat beans, then narrow them down again by density and color. Hacienda La Minita then takes things one step further by separating peaberries by hand; it’s a painstaking process that takes skill and expertise, and it’s a coveted job within the Hacienda. Previously, peaberries were tossed out as “duds” until their flavor potential was unlocked, and now they’re treated like precious gems despite their small, funny shape.

Once beans have been sorted, they go to the cupping room for quality control where they’re brewed and compared to the flat beans; coffee is quickly slurped, not sipped, to better taste the full breadth of the coffee.

Their next step is to travel nearly 4,000 miles to Caribou Coffee headquarters in Minnesota. The beans are lightly roasted to perfection here, guided by our expert roasting technicians. Caribou Coffee is a craft roaster, which means each bean is roasted by one person on one machine, one batch a time. The roasting specs are important, but the temperatures at which La Minita peaberries are roasted is a proprietary secret between, well, ‘Bou and ‘Bou! Our lips are sealed on this special formula.

Tasting notes and how to brew

La Minita’s flavor profile changes a bit depending on how you choose to brew it. “One of the great things about La Minita is you can brew it a variety of ways and get some really interesting characteristics to show up,” says Brian. “A reason to choose this coffee, even if you’re in the medium or dark roast camp, is that it shows up as a bigger coffee. It has a lot of body and texture to it.”

Green Coffee Sourcing Manager Brian Aliffi smiling while holding a cup of Caribou Coffee
Green Coffee Sourcing Manager Brian Aliffi recommends brewing La Minita with a paper filter to make the most of its unique texture.

La Minita shines when brewed hot and cold — the choice is yours! “It’s very approachable. This coffee balances creating a unique, discernible flavor in the cup … without being polarizing,” Brian shares. “It’s very craveable in a lot of ways because of its uniqueness.”

If cold brew is your go-to, you’ll definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. “When you brew it cold, so much of the sweetness that you get from the cocoa and cherry shows up in that method,” he explains. “It’s a candied, high-in-sweetness coffee … it has a ton of syrupiness which shows off and serves as a good balance to the sweetness of the coffee.” To brew La Minita cold, you grind the beans, immerse it for 12 hours, and filter, then sip it chilled like your favorite iced coffee drinks. “It’s a body- and sweetness-focused method,” says Brian. “If you crave that quality in your coffee, it’s a great way to go.”

If you prefer to brew your La Minita hot, you’ll discover fresh cherry flavors in lieu of the maraschino candied cherry flavor. “Some of those sweet notes and syrupiness dials down a little bit and you get more tartness and brightness,” says Brian. “Either way, I think you’ll find something very enjoyable.” Brian recommends brewing with a paper filter like a pour over or in a traditional drip coffee machine to make the most of La Minita’s unique texture.

If you’d like to learn more about brewing La Minita at home, check out our recipes here.

Where to find La Minita Peaberry coffee

Does La Minita Peaberry sound like the perfect coffee for you, or something you’d like to try to expand your palate? Don’t miss your chance to experience this limited-edition bean blend; it has a cult following among Caribou fans so when it makes a comeback, it doesn’t stick around long!

The best way to enjoy La Minita Peaberry is via the hand-crafted, perfectly-roasted beans, available online and in store for your tasting pleasure. (Stock up here.) Pro tip: Grab a few bags, because once La Minita is gone, you’ll have to wait a year for its return.