Big Ass Beans
BIG ASS BEANS
In the world of Arabica beans there are some varietals that are fascinating and huge. The main three are Pacamara, Maragogype (Maragogipe) and Maracaturra. They have the oh so elegant nickname “Elephant Beans” due to their incredible size. They can be found (usually) in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia and Brazil.
Pacamara, specifically is a hybrid of Maragogype and Pacas. Maragogype is a natural mutation of Typica which was discovered in Brazil in 1970. Maragogype doesn’t have a very high yield so Pacamara is usually preferred. Pacamara is known for having some floral aromatics balanced with a lovely degree of acidity and coated with sweetness. Whereas Maragogype is used typically to add body in an espresso blend. Maracaturra also quite a productive varietal, with good cup profiles and yield. It “fixes” the Maragogype problem of low yield as it inherits its yield properties from the Caturra. It also inherited a good degree of acidity and tropical fruits from the Caturra element. But it is highly susceptible to leaf rust which is further worrying as it has an abundance of foliage which plus side also proves good against wind damage. These beans are truly massive and they are so to prevent bugs and creatures from ingesting them wholly.
In my own experience with these varietals If originating from Nicaragua I tend to get a flavour profile of honeyed toasted nuts (typically almond & walnut), chocolate and a smooth texture. In a nutshell (😂) they remind me of a nutty ritter sport. Very delicious They have a good yield and they have a consistent taste HOWEVER they do have some problems due to their size they have had been known to be a nightmare to roast. They are usually not very dense and tend to have low moisture but a large surface area. Therefore if using a hot air roaster then you may have a tough time roasting these beans, needing max fan power and be careful not to do too big a batch at a time and keeping that temp high but the roast time quick. It is very easy to get an uneven roast or worse bake these big ass beans.
Another problem we have is the grinder, you may find inconsistent doses, as due to their density it can be very hard even with a very proficient grinder to get a consistent grind size. But it is very minor and its only inconsistent to the point of trying to maintain a consistent dial in with no variance. Aka chasing god shots which isn’t sustainable. You should dial in an espresso with a degree of some variance allowed. Overall are these beans a novelty or a fantastic varietal worth buying? I would definitely answer with both! It used to be the old saying the bigger the bean the bigger the flavour but that isn’t the case. There is always that one coffee that throws all stereotypes away (one would argue there is heaps of flavour in a peaberry) , especially with the increase of new varietals or different varietals grown elsewhere which brings a whole new profile to that coffee. Just like every single coffee there is amazing big ass beans but there are some less than exciting ones, just gotta cup that coffee to find out whether it will have a future standing alone as a kick ass single O or working swell in a team bringing that bad ass element that makes your blend memorable.