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Where to Find the Best Vanilla Beans Online

Slofoodgroup Team August 04, 2022

Buying vanilla beans online can be tough but we hope this article will make it easier 

Ever find yourself shopping online for vanilla beans or other cooking and baking supplies?  Endlessly scrolling, trying to find the best quality at the best price? Have been on google now for much longer than you wanted or perhaps landed on another large corporate shopping engine filled with endless choices, badges and other bells and whistles that want you to buy. We get it, shopping online is tough and that is why we wrote this article about why Slofoodgroup is the number one choice for where to find the absolute best vanilla beans online

We take quality vanilla and spices seriously

That is why we only offer the best vanilla beans and spices you can find at prices you can afford. We get it, we might not please everyone, and we may not have 20,000 plus five star reviews that were generated by exchanging free product for reviews. We are not offering refunds via paypal like some sellers and other illegal and undisclosed tactics (yes guys, we know what you are doing and its illegal according to the FTC) but, we do have countless reviews and testimonials from real customers that actually left the review and were not compensated. Our team has been working with vanilla beans and other spices since 2005.  Our collective backgrounds in food service, working at some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the US, have proved to be invaluable. The standards we learned over many years in the hospitality industry have taught us all how to take care of people and how to select the best quality vanilla beans and spices. It is this dedication to quality that is paramount to all we do at Slofoodgroup. This dedication is backed up by our satisfaction guarantee 

The sorting and grading of vanilla beans into different classifications

It all starts with the sorting and grading of vanilla beans. We do this both at the source, on the farms, and in our US based facility. All of our vanilla beans are sorted multiple times over by hand. The vanilla beans are checked for size, moisture, aroma, appearance, color, feel and uniformity and then split up based on the classification that is given for each bean ranging from Gourmet ( grade A) vanilla, Extract grade b vanilla beans, and unclassified (commonly referred to also as grade C ).  To properly sort vanilla, it takes time and years of experience. It only comes with the continuous touch, understanding of what to look for, how it should feel and what each vanilla bean should smell like. 

Taking into account the moisture of vanilla beans from different regions

Different vanilla beans will have different moisture contents. It is important to understand the different curing practices, grading and variety of vanilla beans will all play a role in what is acceptable. To do this and better understand how to control this process our team travels to the worlds many different vanilla growing regions. We spend time on the farms, in the communities, and with the families in which choose to partner with. We have learned the many different aspects of growing vanilla properly, harvesting only green vanilla pods that are mature and keeping vanilla beans warm enough during the cool evenings to ensure the enzymatic process is not interrupted and aroma can properly develop. The beans will then be dried using both direct and indirect sun . This process is referred to as sun and shade drying before undergoing inbox conditioning and preparation for export. To be properly exported vanilla beans the vanilla pods must be properly cured. Improperly cured vanilla beans can spoil in transit, be rejected by regulatory officials or be delayed due to logical issues. Controlling the moisture has significant impact or the aroma and flavor of vanilla beans and is often one of the most overlooked steps in producing quality vanilla beans. 

A great example of the difference in moisture and how it plays a role in the development of  flavor and aroma of vanilla is to compare two of the most well known vanilla beans Madagascar vanilla beans and Tahitian vanilla beans from Tahiti.  Both types of vanilla are known the world over and are easy to distinguish from another. Madagascar vanilla is soft, pliable and rather slender while Tahiti vanilla tends to be plumper, wider and have a significant amount of moisture. 

Madagascar vanilla should not be wet and overly plump. It should be slightly tacky with shades of black to dark brown. Madagascar vanilla that is too wet will look nice but can easily mold once opened or even in its packaging due to unstable levels of water activity. Vanilla from Tahiti on the other hand is suppose to be more moist. On average the level of moisture for grade A vanilla from Tahiti is about 15-18 percent above that of vanilla from Madagascar which has an average moisture content of 30-35 percent. 

Is it better to buy vanilla beans from a "Co-op" or a spice shop? 

Well that depends... As far as we are aware, there are no legally registered co-ops that sell vanilla beans in the United States. Most are simply shops just like ours that are offering limited presales and calling themselves co-ops or co-op sales for marketing purposes. Some are small businesses while others are INC 5000 fastest growing privately owned business in the US. Not really a CO-OP now are you. Calling themselves Co-ops or Co-op sales are quite a stretch from the actual truth and none are really offering the best pricing but they do operate large controlled facebook groups where users unknowingly sing their praises. Actually according to the data we have gathered users can easily find just as good or better pricing right here in our shop. Check out the info-graph below comparing the top three vanilla bean co-op groups and Slofoodgroup. Users can easily find, Slofoodgroup pricing is just as good or better on almost all vanilla beans.  


*Info-graph pricing reflects publicly disclosed pricing on top three vanilla co-op groups and Slofoodgroup (January 2022 - August 2022)

Our final thoughts on buying vanilla beans online

As we said, buying vanilla beans online can be tough. Now that you know a few facts about vanilla and buying vanilla beans online, you are better equipped to make more informed purchasing decisions from whatever brand you choose. We hope you choose Slofoodgroup but if you do not and are unhappy or feel mislead, do not say we did not warn you.