Cascara is a word meaning husk or skin and comes from the dried outer skin of a coffee cherry. It used to be discarded during the processing of the coffee but now it is brewed like a tea by steeping it in hot water.
The terms used by people in coffee shops can get very confusing. Coffee can brewed by immersion, vacuum, or as a light tea. Now some coffee shops are serving Cascara Coffee, but, what does that even mean?
This drink is not typical coffee type beverage and I am are here to fill you in on all you need to know about this unique and exciting drink that is growing in popularity.
Where Does Cascara Come From?
The word cascara is Spanish and translates as ‘shell’ or ‘husk’. You would be forgiven for not being aware of cascara coffee as although it is popular in many South American countries, it is still a relatively new drink in other parts of the world.
Currently, there are only a small number of coffee farms that produce it, and even then the cascara is often kept within the country rather than exported.
In order to help you get a clear picture, think of it like this; coffee cherries are fruits, just like the black cherries you can find in your local supermarket. When we eat cherries, we eat the fruit and through the seed away.
However, with coffee cherries, the seeds inside are where we get coffee beans from. Usually, the outer fruit is discarded, but cascara coffee is made by drying the fruit out and grounding it down.
How is Cascara Processed?
The process of making the coffee is a fairly simple one. After the coffee beans are removed from the coffee cherries, the husks are then cleaned to ensure that any debris is removed.
Once they are cleaned, they are left to dry in the sun on raised beds, just as coffee beans are. The most important part of the chain is that farmers have to make sure the coffee cherries are taken care of during the growing process in order to be left with high-quality cherries and coffee beans.
What is the Difference Between Cascara Coffee and Tea
You may see cascara coffee being referred to as ‘cascara tea’ or even ‘coffee cherry tea’, due to the fact that this drink is brewed in a similar manner to tea leaves, and the final result being something akin to a herbal tea. However, cascara is not a tea.
Tea comes from the plant family known as Camellia Sinensis, and cascara comes from the fruit of Coffea plants. So, while the appearance of cascara might be similar to a tea, in every other way they are different.
How Much Caffeine does Casacara have?
Cascara does contain caffeine but certainly not as much as tea or coffee. If we take regular coffee beans, for example, there is roughly 40mg of caffeine for every 100g of coffee, and you can expect to have about a quarter of this amount of caffeine in cascara coffee, even the strongest brewed cascara coffee won’t exceed this amount.
If you like to experiment with different flavors in your coffee, then you can try adding a little cinnamon, honey, nutmeg or something similar to give the drink a little twist. Don’t forget that cascara is fruity and sweet so only add extra flavorings a little at a time so as to not make it too sweet or overbearing.
What is the Best Way to Drink Cascara Coffee?
Since technically, cascara is neither a tea nor a coffee, many people are stumped as to how to prepare a cup but don’t worry because we have the only set of instructions you will ever need.
While the end result of cascara being ground down isn’t exactly the same as tea leaves, it is best to brew them in a similar way as you would tea leaves.
Place your coffee husks into a cup, the recommended amount is about 250g of water for every 18g of cascara coffee. After this, boil your water but keep an eye on the temperature. The perfect temperature for brewing coffee is said to be 205 degrees (Fahrenheit), however, for cascara, the optimum temperature is 190 degrees.
Once the water has reached this temperature, pour it into your cup, and let it brew for between three and four minutes. After, the coffee husks are now ready to be removed, and for this, you can use a tea strainer like you would with tea leaves. If you fancy making it a cold coffee you can pour the brewed drink over ice after you have removed the coffee husks.
What are the Health Benefits of Drinking Cascara?
While there haven’t yet been any specific health benefits from drinking cascara (although it certainly doesn’t do you any harm either), there has been a massive positive impact for coffee bean farmers. Before cascara, the husks of the coffee cherries would be thrown away to the benefit of no one.
However, now coffee bean farmers all over the world are able to make a product from the husk, make more money, and ensure that nothing goes to waste. We know that on the surface this doesn’t seem to make any difference to your life, but it is worth remembering that every time you buy cascara you are helping coffee farmers increase their relatively low wage, and this, in turn, can help a huge number of people.
Cascara coffee is a wonderful alternative to your morning brew, especially if you are trying to cut down on your caffeine consumption. Each day, cascara is becoming increasingly popular in places that until recently had never sold it, due to its exotic and refreshing flavor. Cascara is definitely one for you to try, so keep an eye out for it the next time you are in your local cafe, as it might just become your new favorite drink!