Beyond the realm of roasted coffee beans lies a lesser-known treasure that carries a world of flavors and possibilities. Enter “cascara”, a term that unveils the dried husk of coffee cherries, often overlooked and discarded after the extraction of coffee beans. However, cascara has begun to captivate attention for its potential to reshape the beverage landscape.
Derived from the Spanish word for “husk” or “skin,” cascara breathes new life into what was once considered coffee waste. The process begins with the harvest of coffee cherries, whose precious beans we covet. Yet, the outer layer, the cascara, long relegated to compost, now steps into the spotlight.
Brewing the Essence of Cascara
The magic of cascara unfolds in a teacup. By steeping the dried husks in hot water, a transformation occurs. The result? Cascara tea, a concoction that dances between the worlds of coffee and tea. With every sip, you’re invited to indulge in notes of dried fruits, a whisper of hibiscus, and a trace of coffee’s soul. It’s a symphony of flavors that pays homage to the coffee cherry’s vibrant journey.
A Sip of Antiquity and Innovation
Cascara’s allure extends beyond its taste. Laden with antioxidants and compounds reminiscent of its coffee bean sibling, it’s a beverage that bridges tradition and innovation. Cascara tea offers a gentle alternative to the robustness of coffee, a symposium of subtlety that awakens the palate.
Yet, cascara’s story doesn’t end with the teacup. Its versatility shines as it ventures into realms uncharted. Creative mixologists craft cocktails that blend cascara’s essence with spirits, unlocking new dimensions of flavor. Culinary enthusiasts experiment, infusing cascara’s charm into dishes that transcend the ordinary.
A Journey Less Taken
For those intrigued by the idea of cascara, the journey to experience its delights has never been more accessible. Specialty coffee shops and online purveyors offer a window into this world, where cascara is celebrated as more than a byproduct – it’s an embodiment of the coffee cherry’s essence.
Cascara, the hidden gem within coffee cherries, offers a tale of transformation and reinvention. From being cast aside to being embraced, cascara embodies the beauty of exploration. So, the next time you’re pondering your beverage choice, consider the allure of cascara, a sip that invites you to venture beyond the familiar and discover a flavor journey that’s anything but ordinary.
I have been an avid coffee drinker for my entire adult life, however, a friend recently introduced me to something new.
It’s similar to tea but with an entirely more exciting and unique flavor profile. The bonus? It’s more sustainable and higher in antioxidants too.
Welcome to Cascara.
What is Cascara?
Coffee is popular around the world, but Cascara experiences far less popularity despite its positive health properties. Cascara, similar to Italian Grappa, was once used primarily by farmers; however, it has recently gained popularity due to its taste and sustainability.
How Cascara is produced
Coffee trees produce a small fruit known as a coffee cherry. The seeds of the coffee cherry are coffee beans. The coffee cherry fruit itself contains some caffeine and has a high amount of antioxidants.
The process of pulping coffee cherries removes the seed from its cherry. After roasting these seeds, you are able to brew coffee. But what can be done with the cherries, a natural and inevitable by-product of coffee farming?
Unfortunately, once the seed is removed from the fruit, the cherry is cast off. Thankfully some coffee farmers use fertilizer made from compost containing the coffee cherries. Vineyard owners often repurpose the seeds, skins, stems, and other pulpy matter left over after the grapes are pressed for wine.
Usually, farmers end up composting these organic remains, they are added to cattle feed, and grape skins are made into a strong spirit known as grappa. Naturally, coffee farmers and distributors are now using coffee cherries to create a market for Cascara products in the same way the wine market did with grappa. The markets for Cascara products extend past beverages.
How Cascara good for your health
Cascara is a wonderful substitute for coffee, not only does cascara have a completely different flavor and less caffeine, however, the potential is far greater for your health. I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle lately, so I’ve been trying to cut down on caffeine. Cascara has been a great transition from coffee to tea. Plus you gain all the benefits not offered by tea!
Due to the relatively low caffeine content in Cascara, you shouldn’t have a hard time going to sleep soon after drinking Cascara, unless you have a high sensitivity to caffeine.
Cascara is quickly becoming popular throughout the coffee industry but also the beverage industry and beauty product producers. Due to the high amount of polyphenols coffee cherry fruit contain many experts consider them to be a super food.
Those with weak or compromised immune systems will benefit greatly from Cascara. Cascara’s anti-inflammatory properties allow me to recover from workouts faster and provide a healing environment for your muscles and circulatory system.
Cascara contains BDNF, and people consuming the beverage have reported an uplift in mood, a sense of rejuvenation, an increase in energy, a benefit of mental clarity, and an improvement in memory.
Cascara is commonly used in skin products due to it displaying revitalizing and youthful effects. Products that contain cascara as an active ingredient assert the product’s youthful and anti-aging effects when used regularly. Individuals have reported positive outcomes towards their weight loss goals as Cascara is easy to work into their exercise regime.
How to obtain Cascara
While relatively unique to the United States’ café culture, it is gathering popularity quickly.
Coffee farmers in Yemen and Ethiopia have been drying and brewing coffee cherries like this since the discovery of the coffee tree and quite possibly since before coffee seeds were first used to make a drink.
Coffee-producing countries often steep the dried cherry along with spices such as ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon to make a fragrant drink known as “hashara” in Ethiopia or “qisher” in Yemen.
While cascara has been produced in Yemen and Ethiopia for centuries, coffee growers in South America such as El Salvador and Bolivia have also begun to sell and export cascara.
Cascara is still a new introduction to the United States, and is an exciting addition to the world of caffeinated beverages. Brewed hot or cold, Cascara is a new and interesting way to enjoy another delicious part of the coffee plant which we have all grown fond of. Visit your local specialty roaster and ask if Cascara is available there!
What can you do with Cascara?
As I watched my first pot of coffee cherry tea brew I had the initial impression of a pleasantly dark golden brown, similar to apple cider, brew slowly in front of me.
Next I noticed a floral, fruity scent reach my nose. Having ordered both a hot and an iced Cascara, I tried the hot first.
As I closed my eyes and held my warm cup of Cascara in my hands and took my first breath the sound of 2 stroke engines faded into the distance. Catching me off guard, the taste I received from my initial sip of coffee cherry tea had the striking resemblance of cherry juice, rose hip, hibiscus, and red current. However the Cascara was far gentler, and far less tart than cherry juice; and has a slight natural sweetness.
As I moved to the iced coffee cherry tea I noticed a much more subdued nose. The cooler tea allowed for more tart, tangy and stronger notes of citrus to shine through. Iced coffee cherry ice is a perfectly refreshing caffeinated beverage for a hot day, especially when coffee would be too dark or heavy.
While it is a product of the coffee plant, Cascara tastes nothing like coffee when brewed. As it is from a dried fruit, its flavor and aroma profile most closely resembles an herbal tea.
Some report a scent reminiscent of hibiscus, cider, and orange zest. Others note essence of rose hip, hibiscus, cherry, red current, mango or even tobacco. However, we all agree that Cascara is a tangy, refreshing, slightly sweet brew.
The variety of the coffee cherry, where it’s grown, when it’s picked and how it’s processed, all have a strong influence on flavor profile, body and acidity. Different brewing techniques produce varying flavor profiles. Feel free to experiment to find your ideal brew!