Cascara is one of those shiny new words in the coffee industry today but if you’ve been following the trends for years now, you’ll know it’s already been a thing in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of South America.
Its popularity has only been on the rise recently in America and many countries in Europe. Many large coffee chains are beginning to include cascara recipes in their menus and that has contributed to the spike in interest.
Cascara, and we’re not talking about Cascara Sagrada, the drug used as a laxative here, it’s the Coffee Cherry Tea used in brewing the Yemeni Qishr as it’s known in Yemen.
Cascara is Spanish for skin so the coffee here is made but not with the bean. The beans are processed through a wet or dry method after harvesting, each will produce its skin or Cascara.
The husks were previously used as fertilizers or compost by farmers after separating them from the beans.
They’re cheaper than whole coffee beans and farmers who process them now make more money selling the entire package than when it was just coffee beans.
They’re completely healthy to eat and are a rich source of antioxidants which help in preventing injury to your body tissues.
When cascara is left out to dry as a form of processing, dry cascara is produced. The dry processing method is usually not used because it takes a lot of time to complete but if you’re ready to wait it out it can be an ideal option.
The coffee skins or husks as they’re called dry alongside the bean when they’re left to dry. The husks and beans are separated after dry processing is completed to get cascara.
The coffee has to be wet for wet processing to occur. This is done by soaking the beans in water and waiting for the skins to go off by fermentation or active scrubbing.
The husks are easier to get off when they’re wet but that’s just one step of the process. The wet husks are then gathered and dried with special attention given to preventing the growth of molds.
Molds in a few husks can quickly spread and destroy entire batches.
The cascara gotten during wet processing is whole with little fragments so this method is usually favored over dry-processed cascara. This is because in wet processing the husks are squeezed and not beaten as in dry cascara.
Tea or Coffee?
There’s some argument over the appropriate term to use with cascara since it’s gotten from coffee but brewed in the same way you’ll do tea.
Well, cascara is not tea. Tea comes from the plant Camellia Sinensis and this isn’t a component of cascara.
It does contain about a quarter to an eight of caffeine found in coffee but it’s not coffee either because the beans aren’t being used. Cascara is simply a by-product of coffee and it’s okay if it has that category to itself.
How To Brew
You’ll need a tea strainer, cascara and water at just below boiling point to brew.
Put 18-20g of cascara into a tea strainer. Add 300g of water at 200°F. Steep like tea for 4 minutes like tea, strain and your cascara brew is ready.
You can experiment with this recipe by tweaking the water content in your drink as even experienced baristas are far from getting the perfect water to cascara ratio and steeping time.
You’ll get a sweet, fruity brew so you’ll enjoy your drink. Cascara herbal tea and syrup are other recipes you can try with those husks.
So cascara is the drink made by brewing as you’ll do with tea, coffee husks. It doesn’t have as much caffeine content so if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine intake that’s a drink you should try.