When is a Coffee not a Coffee? When it is Cascara
Most of us in the coffee industry will have heard mutterings of a Spanish word "Cascara" (Spanish for Husk) in the last 2-3 months, up until very recently this would have referred to the leftover skins of the coffee cherries, a waste product produced by an ever expanding coffee industry. Burnt or buried, there really hasn't been any real reason to talk about it too much - however this has now all changed!
Actually it couldn't be further from a waste product if it tried, with prices nearly 500% higher than that of the treasures it once carried Cascara has now become a super food at super prices, having had the 'waste' label removed from it, it has become a TEA, at least that's what everyone is referring to it as, albeit slightly controversially it seems!
So from being a Coffee to Waste and now to a Tea, what is all the fuss about this chameleon of drinks....
Well to be honest I was at first sceptical, having only tried a tiny amount of it a year ago from a Central American coffee farm, it wasn't really to my liking, dry mouthfeel with watery body and a very short and sloe like finish. Definitely not a coffee taste, but then neither that of any teas I had drunk either.
It wasn't until earlier this year when reviewing our Mexican coffee offering for 2018 when I came across the Cascara of the coffee we were so fond of from this particular farm, lets give it a second chance, after all the Americans are getting very excited about it over the pond - there must be a reason.
WOW, we were blown away by the difference of the flavours this Cascara produced, vibrant, bright and refreshing. Discerning and prominent flavours bursting from the cup which really was worth getting excited about. The Cascara we were salivating over was a Mexican Coffee Cherry from Finca Aurora, brewed using boiling water and steeped for 4 minutes at 10g to 300ml, there were clear and clean notes of Rhubarb, Redbush, Black Cherry, Vanilla and Tobacco leaf. Left to cool, this drink took on a new life again, becoming a beautifully refreshing cold summer drink that left the mouth feeling satisfyingly quenched.
All these flavours and super high in Anti Oxidants too! Low in Caffeine and rich in flavour - one can now understand why there is a fuss being made - I now find myself making the same fuss and brewing large amounts of it on a regular basis. There is already a range of drinks being made from this product in the States, canned, bottled, sparkling, still, hot and cold.... so I would suggest watching this space, as it will surely become a very popular drink here in the UK in the next 6-12 months!
If you haven't yet come across it, or tried it - now is your chance. We have begun stocking this product in its raw form for you to experiment with yourselves, Would love to hear from those that do try it.
So whether you call it a tea or a coffee drink, get out there and try some and smile to yourself knowing you were there ahead of the crowd, while you savour it's refreshing flavours!
N.B It is also worth mentioning that if someone offers you Cascara Segrada, this is NOT the same thing! Cascara Segrada is another plant based product used for its medicinal properties as a natural laxative, so one Cascara will leave you refreshed and the other will leave you empty! Choose wisely!