You may have noticed that we're selling bags of Cascara Tisane from Guatemala's Finca La Bolsa, and wondered: what would I do with that? Daunting at first glance, Cascara's unique, subtly sweet flavor profile is ideal for a variety of coffee-adjacent uses. Plus, producing Cascara is a great way for coffee farmers to make the most of their coffee harvest.
So what is it?
Cascara is the dried skin of the coffee fruit. (Coffee "beans" are the seeds of that fruit, which is commonly referred to as a "cherry" owing to its size and color.) The first step in producing a washed or pulped natural/honey process coffee is to depulp the cherries shortly after harvest, removing the skin and much of the pulp surrounding the inner bean. The skin has traditionally been considered a byproduct of coffee production, but drying it with care produces Cascara.
What should you do with it?
Cascara is most commonly used to make a tisane (herbal tea), and for good reason: its flavor is reminiscent of hibiscus, cider, and orange zest. It's a tangy, slightly sweet brew.
Cascara also makes a delicious syrup, bringing out rich notes of dried fruit (think raisins and apricots). Use it in place of simple syrup in hot or iced coffee and lattes, as the base for an Italian soda, or to add another dimension to cocktails. The possibilities are endless!
Here are some guidelines to work with:
Cascara Tisane (Hot)
1) Put 18 grams of cascara (0.6 oz., or a heaping Tbsp.) into a sachet or tea strainer.
2) Add 300 grams (10.5 oz.) of 200°F water.
3) Steep 4-5 minutes.
4) Strain and enjoy!
Cascara Tisane (Cold)
1) Add 100 grams (3.5 oz.) cascara to 1 liter cold water.
2) Steep for 24 hours.
3) Strain, pour over ice, and enjoy!
Cascara Simple Syrup
1) Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup cascara in a small pot.
2) Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
3) Remove pot from heat and let cascara steep while the mixture cools.
4) Strain and get creative!
If at-home experimentation isn't your thing, stop by one of our cafes this summer for a Cascara Cola or Cascara Cream Soda!