Don’t you just love how the word cascara rolls off your tongue? There’s something sweet about how alive it makes you feel. Coming from the Spanish language, cascara means shell or husk in Spanish.
Cascara is the skin of the coffee cherry. The fruit from which coffee beans come from.
It can vary in color and is small, with fleshy cherry-like skin. Typically, the skin is removed from the cherries and the seeds, aka the beans, which were inside are then roasted.
What does cascara taste like?
Can you eat raw cascara cherries straight from the plant? You can, but it’s been described as edible and not so incredible. But wait! There’s still hope.
This coffee fruit can be made into a dietary supplement or a cascara tea, also known as cascara sagrada. (Although both cascara and cascara sagrada can come with health benefits, you may want to contact your health provider first as it may not be healthy for all to consume.)
So the question begs to be asked, is cascara coffee or tea?
Cascara is considered tea.
When brewed, it has both fruity and herbal tones to it. It can also be made into teas, syrups, sodas, beer, or even infused into vodka. Happy hour anyone?
When made into a simple syrup, cascara becomes sweet. It tends to taste like a mixture of fruits and herbs, such as rose hips, hibiscus flower, red currant, mango, and sometimes even a hint of tobacco. It is also described as having a cherry-brown sugar-like flavor.
How is cascara used at Starbucks®?
As more and more businesses started to use cascara, the popularity of this plant started to gain momentum around the world. What once was seen as a piece of waste was now in high demand.
Increased desire for the husk part of these coffee cherries has, in some cases, led to the dried husks commanding higher prices than the coffee beans themselves.
In the past, Starbucks® used its cherry fruit skins as fertilizer. However, in 2017 the famous coffee chain discovered a new and improved way of producing their cascara. They put it in their coffee.
The Starbucks® Cascara Latte came out to the world as the first official drink of 2017.
It was made up of espresso, steamed milk, cascara syrup, and was topped with velvety microfoam. A sprinkle of cascara topping, made with cascara extract and cane sugar, was the signature straight line that completed this new eco-friendly beverage.
Can you drink cascara cold?
You can consume cascara tea either hot or cold. It’s the same as any other tea. Lots of steeping and brewing. The cold version just takes longer to make.
To make cold cascara tea, you’ll need 24 hours and about a half cup of cascara coffee cherries to every 4 1/4 cups of water.
On the other hand, if you are a religious drinker of hot tea only, we completely understand and we’ve got you covered. Here’s a video of how to make deliciously hot cascara tea:
We love how simple and easy this recipe is to make. It’s perfect for a cozy night at home or a cold winter season.
Does cascara have caffeine?
It is said that coffee cherry pulp contains considerable amounts of phenolic compounds and caffeine. This means that it not only has caffeine, but it also doubles as a rich source for antioxidants.
Beautiful skin and anti-aging properties here we come!
So how much caffeine does it have? Coffee cherry tea is similar to black tea in levels of caffeine.
It only has about a quarter of the caffeine levels than regular coffee does. So if you’re pulling an all-nighter, best stick with a regular cup of coffee rather than tea made from coffee cherries.
Where does cascara come from?
Coffee beans originated from Ethiopia, the original motherland of coffee.
Cascara coffee husks, in Ethiopia, are made into a tea called Geshar or Hashara and are darkly roasted until almost black. Then, the husks are infused in water for a longer period of time to create an intensely fruity flavor.
Later, coffee beans migrated over to South America, where a different approach was taken to brewing cascara. It is commonly consumed in Bolivia, where the Bolivians refer to it as Sultana. The cascara cherry fruit is first sun-dried and then lightly toasted like coffee by coffee roasters. From there, the dried fruit husks will be ground into a loose leaf tea ready to be brewed.
Just add some boiling hot water and steep with cinnamon, clove, and sugar. 4-8 minutes later, depending on your desired level of strength, you’ll get a sweet cup of tea with notes of cherries in it.
In Yemen, it’s referred to as Qishr, a tea made with coffee cherry husks, cinnamon, ginger or caraway.
Traditionally, cascara was used for several medicinal purposes. Known for healing headaches, sores, swelling, and internal strains. But overall, cascara was most popular for its laxative properties and over-the-counter therapy of constipation.
Now that you know a little bit about the history of cascara, what it is, where it came from, and how it can be used, do you think you’ll give it a try? Whether you’re looking to add some antioxidants, health benefits or even a little cherry flavor into your life, we think you’d love to try it out.