~ The trending tea-like wonder of the coffee world - we've tasted it, and we're talking. ~
What is it? "Cascara" means "husk" or "peel" in Spanish, and refers to the dried skins of the coffee cherry. After coffee cherries are processed (and on their way to your morning mug), the skins are collected, dried and packaged. When steeped, the result is "cascara tea" - not coffee, and not tea, but somewhere happily in the middle.
What does it taste like? Cascara has delicate flavors of hibiscus, dried berries and raisins. Like any "tea" (real or herbal), longer steep times will bring out stronger flavors. The distinction from tea is important - tea comes from the Camellia Sinensis plant, whereas herbal "teas" or tisanes are dried herbs, fruits or flowers. Cascara is technically a tisane, as explained by Regan Crisp in Fresh Cup Magazine, and the Roasters Pack has a handy Cascara brew guide video for serving up a tasty cup.
Caffeine content? Great question. Square Mile Coffee Roasters sent some to a lab in Germany to have that tested, and the results disproved the common theory that cascara is higher in caffeine than coffee - it actually has about one fourth the amount.
Aside from brewing cascara to drink hot or iced, its subtle but tasty flavors provide a plethora of creative options for your coffee (or home) bar. Creating a concentrated brew, adding sugar and reducing produces a syrup worth of summery iced drinks or even a latte. Bird Rock Coffee Roasters has a few great ideas as well (above).
Do you have a favorite way to drink or use cascara? Tell us!
Thanks to Emmy Swisher for the photos from As Green as it Gets coffee farm in Guatemala.
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