What is often regarded as coffee waste can be made into a “tea” and is steadily growing in demand as consumers become aware of just how much food in the supply chain goes to waste. It has also experienced growth as a way for farmers to diversify their income.
The skins of the coffee fruit surrounding the bean, also called the coffee cherry, are usually discarded after the coffee beans have been harvested from the plant. Coffee producers and retailers are turning these coffee cherries into a beverage called cascara, which is now sold across the United States.
Cascara is Spanish for “husk,” “peel” or “skin.” This part of the coffee plant has long been consumed in Bolivia, where it is called “sultana” and in Yemen and Ethiopia, where it is referred to as “qishr.”
Cascara packs substantially more antioxidants than green tea, while being a good source of electrolytes, too.
Like coffee beans, coffee cherries contain caffeine, though not as much. Brewed cascara is dark red and its naturally sweet taste has been likened to that of cherries. It can also be used as an ingredient in cocktails.
It can be brewed hot and mixed with honey or sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Or, it can be cold brewed and enjoyed on ice.
Here are some companies that offer cascara in a variety of formats:
Kasira brand offers three varieties of the coffee fruit tea on its website. Its “Perla Negra” Whole Fruit Cascara won the Bronze medal in the 2018 Single Serve Hot and Iced Small Batch Global Tea Championship.
Lazy Bear Tea, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based cascara purveyor, produces a bottled cascara that can be found in 30 locations in the Boston metropolitan area.
Slipstream café in Washington, D.C., mixes cascara syrup with carbonated water to create a cascara soda.
MudHouse Coffee Roasters sells cascara at its Virginia locations and online.
Temple Coffee Roasters’ Sacramento, California, locations offer nitrogen-infused cascara tea.
Uncommon Coffee Roasters sells containers of cascara on its website.
De La Gente supports smallholder farmers in Guatemala by selling loose cascara its website.
Praxis Coffee Roasters in Austin, Texas sells Naturally Processed Cascara from Nicaragua on its website.
Denver Beer Co. in Colorado features Rickshaw, an IPA with Cascara.