Great question. The major variations between Grades of vanilla beans stem from two key factors: moisture content and appearance.
Grade A-1 beans are very dark in color, pliable and moist with an moisture content ranging from 30%-35%. These are the highest grade vanilla beans offered in the industry.
Grade A-2 beans are dark in color, with slight reddish hues or stripes in parts of the bean. The moisture content of these wonderful beans range from 25%-30%.
Grade B (or Extract Grade) have a deep reddish-black coloration, and may have slight splits or cuts along the bean. They are very aromatic, but a noticeably drier than the other Grades, and have moisture content range from 15%-20%.