Arizona Vanilla Company

eBay store:
Vanilla beans reviewed: Mexico, Madagascar planifolia. Tahiti tahitensis.
Cost: See notes below.

Arizona Vanilla Company has a webstore and listings on eBay. The beans were packed in bags.

Arizona Vanilla Company (AZVC) was the last major multi-origin US vanilla bean vendor to be added to this site. AZVC advertises their Mexico planifolia beans as the recipients of a Gold Star Award from Sante` Magazine in 2006. When the Mexican beans went on sale, I couldn’t resist adding them to the site.

I bought 15 Mexico origin 8″ vanilla beans on eBay. Additionally, I ordered one Madagascar bean and one Tahiti grown tahitensis. The beans arrived super fast, but there were only 14, 7″ Mexican vanilla beans. Eric at AZVC explained that the most recent crop from Mexico was 7″ instead of 8″. He offered a replacement order or a refund. I ask for a replacement.

I’m not the only one to experience missing items in my order. An Instructables member, though very satisfied, e-mailed about missing items in their order.

Eric sent an additional package of 15 larger Mexico beans and 5 Madagascar beans. He explained that the first Mexican beans were from the 2006 harvest, and the second shipment are the current 2007 harvest. According to Eric, “The 2007 harvest was not very good due to the 2 hurricanes that hit the Mexican vanilla growing region in 2007. About half the harvest was destroyed…” –Eric C Elsberry, email, April 8, 2008.

Mexico planifolia, first shipment (crop of 2006).
I received 14, approximately 7″ Mexican vanilla beans. The beans are dark brown, shiny, and oily. They have the characteristic woodiness of Mexico origin vanilla.

The beans are beautifully flexible, but quite thin. The aroma is moderately strong. An above average yield of nice, airy caviar, despite being thin beans.

Mexico planifolia, second shipment (crop of 2007).
The second, replacement shipment of Mexican vanilla beans is fairly disappointing. These beans are longer, but browner, dryer, and woodier. A couple of the beans are quite scrawny and disfigured. Even though they are exceptionally water-dry, they are still very oily — even greasy.

Cutting them is like cutting extract grade beans. One bean snapped in two places when flexed.

[singlepic=35,320,240,,center]Dry broken vanilla bean.

They have a low caviar yield for so many beans, though some were so scrawny and thin that it was nearly impossible to cut them open and remove the caviar. Airy, normal caviar, but a bit on the dry side.

[singlepic=38,320,240,,center]Scrawny vanilla bean.

Madagascar planifolia
AZVC’s Madagascar vanilla beans are very oily and flexible. An advertisement for these beans says they can be tied in a knot – I was able to do this without damaging the bean. They are fairly short beans, and black to black-brown in color.

Several beans are plump, some are very thin. The first bean I received has a visible tattoo. The caviar is airy, though cohesive. Yield is below average.

Tahiti tahitensis
This is a real Tahiti grown tahitensis vanilla bean. It has a nice aroma and excellent cure. I think it’s from general island growers, probably through Jean Chan, and not a specific plantation, like Le Vanillere.

The bean I received was not nearly as plump as the Tahitian vanilla previously reviewed. This image shows that, despite being very wide, this bean is only moderately thick.

Caviar yield is above average, but very dry and spongy. This caviar isn’t at all gooey or muddy, like the previous Tahiti tahitensis vanilla beans I reviewed.

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18 Responses to “Arizona Vanilla Company”

  1. Dee Larson says:

    I came across your website and, to my surprise; I read your recent comments about Arizona Vanilla.

    I’m sorry to read that you have such an aversion towards this company. I have been their customer for 1 1/2 years and love their products, especially the Mexican beans (for my personal use) that you so much disliked!

    In your evaluation you mentioned that the first time you only received 14 beans, but didn’t they send you 15 more instead of just the one you were missing? Who doesn’t make mistakes?

    Then you mentioned about the difference in size from one crop to another but didn’t Eric explain to you the reasons why? Are you reading what you are writing or is your “critics” blindness not let you see that there are still honest people in business? Are you even a certified critic? Did you learn ethics in school?

    Let me tell you that I have talked to Eric myself and he has always been an honest person and so willing to help out with my orders. You made him look like he did things on purpose. You are very discriminative in your comments. The job of a critic is to say things as they are. You sound more of those people who want to make news out of anybody they can put down.

    You talk about Arizona Vanilla beans, have you ever cared to test ground vanilla? It is one of the best ground vanillas I’ve ever seen. I use it in my business which targets people with food allergies.

    I just want you to know that I do not appreciate the unprofessional way you wrote about those people. Arizona Vanilla has shown a consistent, excellent customer service. They have strived to offer high quality products and keep their prices relatively low.

    I have bought my vanilla from other suppliers that I do not want to bash, but I have stuck with Arizona Vanilla because I am happy with their quality and customer service.

    I will expect you to put this in your “Comments” link as I am sure I will not be the only one who disagrees with your harsh comments and unfair evaluation towards Arizona Vanilla.

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks for your comment, Dee. I’m glad you’ve had such a good experience with the Arizona Vanilla Company.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Looked at their website, they seem overpriced considering what’s on offer elsewhere.

    I thought the review posted here was very fair, and unbiased. Normally, when more than a few people report problems, like, items not as described, or order short-changed, that would immediately send up a red flag to avoid the company, as it’s practices are sub-par, compared to other sellers who don’t falsely advertise or short-change orders. Making up for it after the fact doesn’t really solve the problem, as many people would not even complain, and therefore would get ripped off..

  4. Eric Elsberry says:

    Cross posted from here:


    I have recieved many emails based on the posting of our coupon in your tips. This coupon was sent out to our customer list several days ago. Most of the emails that I have recieved are not very pleased with your review. I do not think that it is the fact that you posted the coupon that raised the firestorm, but the follow comment:

    “The Arizona Vanilla Company vanilla beans I’ve purchased are my LEAST favorite beans on this site. You can check out pictures and my notes here. If you must buy beans from AZVC, this might save you some cash.”

    You stated in your response to Humble that you just post reviews and pictures and the customer decide from that. It appears that you also make editorial comments not just objective reviews.

    No one from our company has posted to your site, with the exception of this email. So, the comments you have been recieving are coming from those that do not agree with your point of view.

    I also agree with Humble, although somewhat ironically, that you do not tell the public who you are or how to contact you outside of this forum. Humble seems to enjoy the same anonymity as well.

    I do agree with Humble that you have not spent much time getting to know Arizona Vanilla or the procedures that we go through to source and prove our products. This insight might give your public a better idea on what it takes to be in this business.

    Ian, this is a difficult business. Mistakes happen. We pride ourselves in quickly solving customer complaints. We ship out thousands of vanilla beans each month, and from time to time a not so pretty, or broken vanilla bean might go out as Gourmet. We catch a lot of these in house and sell them as Grade B.

    Please remind your public that vanilla beans are an agricultural crop and therefore are subject to the whims of nature. They will not always be the same. We do strive to maintain the highest level of consistency in quality as is possible in a agricultural product. But just like orange, apples and bananas, there will be differences from lot to lot and from one years’ crop to the next.

    I urge to you spend some time and really get to know the people that you review. You might be surprised.

    Eric Elsberry
    Managing Director

  5. Gord Knowles says:

    My AVC experience

    I have ordered twice from Arizona Vanilla Company, and have been impressed both times with what I have received. Though I am no expert on the quality and characteristics of good vanilla beans, I have found the Grade A Mads I purchased to be quite tasty in my cooking, and quite easy to work with.

    As far as pricing goes, for whatever reason their prices are far, far cheaper on ebay, where it only cost me $5 to ship 1/2 a pound to Canada, taking about 10 days to arrive by airmail. Their ebay service by email is quite prompt, and the two times I’ve had to reach them by email I received an answer back within 6 hours. Their ebay feedback rating is 100%, for whatever that’s worth.

    The second set of beans I purchased, which just arrived last week, measured between 8 and 9.5 inches, far larger than seems usual, and put out an excellent yield of paste – must be a fresh batch, or something.

    Long story short, thanks for providing a forum to view other’s experiences with different vanilla providers – it is interesting to note the differences and opinions of others in the same boat. Thanks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I recently completed a second order from Arizona Vanilla for Madagascar beans (both Grade A and Grade B beans and their cookbook, “Simply Vanilla”). I bought some beans by way of a successful EBay auction and bought other beans at they EBay store. They consolidated the orders for mailing and even refunded part of the postage. The beans came within 3 days. The Grade A beans averaged 17-18 cm or roughly 7-inches long; they were dark brown, glossy, and somewhat flexible with a deep and fresh vanilla fragrance. I’m quite happy with my beans. I’ve seen the equivalent looking vanilla beans being sold in grocery and gourmet food stores for many times what I paid for these beans.

  7. Ian says:

    Comments dated August 4 were copied from the old site. Comment dates didn’t transfer correctly, so everything is reset to the insert time.

    You may also like to discuss this page in the vanilla vendor forum.

  8. digigirl says:

    Just wanted to say that I think the review posted here is not unreasonably negative, but seems to be a basic description of events and impressions as they occurred. Although the reviewer apparently made his personal opinion known elsewhere, this review still stands as solid work. The comments are mostly about the product itself, not the service received and that means it is what it is.

    If Arizona Vanilla isn’t happy with the review they received, perhaps they would like to send another sample from a better crop instead of complaining about the review of the less than stellar product they sent the first time around? In my opinion, the only questionable conduct here is on the part of Arizona Vanilla – casting aspersions on a reviewer’s ethics in response to a negative review is not exactly what I would call professional.

    Arizona – don’t like what you got? You say you work with people to fix problems. Don’t complain about the review – fix the problem.

  9. Lindsay Vance says:

    I’ve ordered vanilla beans from Arizona Vanilla and was shorted 2 beans as well! When I went to post feedback, I noticed others were complaining that they were shorted vanilla beans as well. At least I’m not the only one! Besides, their vanilla beans were not worth the price either way. I have since found another online vendor with far better vanilla beans with better prices.

  10. Julie Sharpe says:

    I received my beans from this company and although they smelled fantastic, I am so disappointed . The beans are thin , many of them broken and all of them so dry. Almost all of the whole beans are already split lengthwise as if someone had sliced them open. I went ahead and made my vanilla extract and am hoping for the best but I won’t be ordering these again.

  11. ian says:

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks for sharing. I was also disappointed in the beans, as well as the nasty customer service (which you can see trolled the site above).

  12. Wayne Walker says:

    I just wanted to thank you for what seems to be a very unbiased, fair-minded review. It’s a bit ironic that the only biased and unfair review on this page is the one that went completely over the top in accusing you of being “unprofessional.” To the contrary, your response was very professional.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. Kenneth Pendarvis says:

    Note from Ian: Removed spammer reply I think was hired to post here by Arizona Vanilla. Our advise is to avoid this company at all costs!

  14. ian says:

    Kenneth Pendarvis is a hired spammer. That makes Arizona Vanilla even WORSE in my book. Here is where he posts from:

    MarkMonitor Brand Protectionâ„¢
    MarkMonitor AntiPiracyâ„¢
    MarkMonitor AntiFraudâ„¢
    Professional and Managed Services

    Probably a “brand management” (spam) consultant. They are spammers saying nice things to improve search ranking. NEVER buy from Arizona vanilla, I have NEVER heard a single good thing. Our beans and interactions with them, quite frankly were horrifying.

  15. Kenneth Pendarvis says:

    >Kenneth Pendarvis is a hired spammer. That makes Arizona Vanilla even >WORSE in my book. Here is where he posts from:

    >MarkMonitor Brand Protectionâ„¢
    >MarkMonitor AntiPiracyâ„¢
    > MarkMonitor AntiFraudâ„¢
    > Professional and Managed Services

    You are either deranged or have the wrong Kenneth Pendarvis.
    I am not a spammer, I am a Board Certified Radiographer. (RT) R.
    Why do you have so much hate inside you?
    Release your rage my friend.
    Why are you getting so worked up over a silly
    Internet blog about a food product?

  16. ian says:

    Not deranged, not full of hate, just calling out spammers and bad beans when I see them :)

  17. Wow. This person has spent lots of efforts collecting and presenting facts about his experience with vanilla. Made me learn a few things about how to identify good vanilla myself

  18. mario galli says:

    I have just received 4 lb of Madagascar beans from Arizonavanilla.
    they are the driest, most second hand looking beans i have ever purchased.
    I made several liters of extract every year since 2009 and these are the worst beans i ever had to work with.