What is Cascara? | Wild Husk's Coffee Cherry Tea Explained
While it’s no mystery to most what coffee is, we thought we’d explain about the lesser known bi-product of coffee which is the cherries. So… why don’t I know about the cherries and what can they be used for? Good question, they are incredible.
Coffee beans are the seed of the coffee plant and the source for coffee. They are the pit inside the fruit often referred to as a cherry. The small fleshy outer fruit varies in colour dependant on the coffee variety but is often red or purple in colour when ripe. The cherry is rich in antioxidants and contains caffeine, this is how coffee beans get their caffeine. The purpose of the cherry is to protect the seeds from the elements, wildlife and insects as they develop.
During the production of coffee, the cherries are pulped which separate the cherry from the beans. The beans are then dried and roasted to make coffee but where do the cherries go? Usually the cherries are discarded upon pulping, most often into large piles which can be turned into compost and used as fertiliser. This is a wasteful use and results in pollution of nearby watercourse from run-off of the nitrogen rich decomposing cherries.
Occasionally the cherries are dried and brewed as a form of tea, this tradition stems from Yemen and Ethiopia – coffee’s birth place. For centuries cherries have been dried and brewed to make a drink called Qishr. As coffee plants spread from Africa to south and central America, the cherries became referred to as Cascara which is ‘husk’ in Spanish.
Very few coffee farmers produce Cascara and even fewer export it. The team at Wild Husk have worked with coffee plantations in central America, Africa and Asia to change this.
Cascara requires as much attention as the processing of coffee in order to get it to a high level of quality. The level of quality ranges among farmers who produce it. Those farmers who meticulously grow, pick, produce and dry the cherries ultimately have a better beverage when properly brewed.
At Wild Husk, we ensure that all of our Cascara comes from cherries which are separated from the seeds and left whole. They are then washed and dried on raised beds before being packaged.
Although Cascara comes from coffee plants, it tastes nothing like coffee. As Cascara is brewed it most closely relates to a herbal tea or tisane. It’s not coffee, nor tea, its coffee cherry tea!
The coffee plant variety, geographical location and the picking & processing methods have a big impact on the flavour profile, body and acidity. Wild Husk’s coffee cherry tea has a sweet fruit flavour which is usually complimented by a tangy or floral component. The method of brewing also plays a role in what flavours are most pronounced.
Cascara is still a new introduction to the global world of tea. Wild Husk is here to work with this magical fruit and make the delicious tea accessible to everyone. Be sure to check out our latest Cascara products here.