What is Cascara?
I had lots of questions before we started carrying Cascara. Cascara is the dried fruit of the coffee cherry that covers the cherry’s inner coffee beans. Though mostly discarded and/or used for compost, a select beverage market has emerged for tea-like beverage brewing using the Cascara. Though I’d seen it online and heard about it from some different people I know in the industry, I didn’t try it until recently, when our friends at Cafe Imports starting carrying a food-grade Cascara from Costa Rica.
From our friends at Cafe Imports, we learn:
“After being harvested, the cherries are transported on the same day to a facility to be specially processed: The seeds in their mucilage are whisked away, but the removed pulp is washed, pasteurized, and dehydrated in a sterile environment to keep it free of pathogens, debris, and other not-delicious stuff commonly found in “regular” cascara. This is the cleanest cascara we’ve ever seen, and we’re pleased to offer it to our customers.”
How do you use it?
I prefer to brew Cacara like I would brew tea, steeping it in hot water (just lower than boiling) for 5-10 minutes. While there is a natural, fruity, cherry-like sweetness to this brewed Cascara, it really goes well with honey or other sweetener. Unsweetened, it is tart and juicy, like a hibiscus tea.
Is it any good?
First, it does NOT smell like coffee. It smells like an herbal tea. And, for the most part, it tastes like an herbal tea. Yes, it tastes pretty good. It’s lighter bodied than coffee, a bit tart, and refreshing. I’ve also used it to make iced Cascara by cutting the amount of hot water in half, brewing the normal time, and pouring immediately over a glass of ice.
Does it contain any caffeine?
Yes. It has 25% as much caffeine as brewed coffee (less than black tea but slightly more than green tea).
What’s a good recipe to use as a starting point?
I use a gram scale and have been using:
10 grams Cascara cherries
200 grams hot water (about 200 degrees)
Steep for 5-7 minutes in a French press, tea pot, or some other type of immersion brewer. If you don’t have a gram scale, try using about 1/2 cup dried Cascara and 12 ounces of hot water.