Cascara - the amazing coffee fruit skin
Cascara is the name for the dried coffee cherry skins which can become a surprising beverage when brewed like a herbal tea.
The name comes from the Spanish cáscara meaning simply “husk” or “skin”. We shouldn’t confuse coffee fruit skin with the plant Cascara Sagrada which was used as a natural laxative in folk medicine.
Coffee cherry tea is very popular in some coffee growing countries such as Yemen, Bolivia, Ethiopia. There is a traditional hot drink in Yemen called Qishr which is made from cascara, ginger and sometimes cinnamon. In Bolivia as well, people have a drink from cascara called Sultana which is made from lightly toasted coffee cherry skins and is also sometimes mixed with cinnamon.
In coffee farms cascara mostly used to be discarded as waste or used as a fertilizer. Nowadays it’s becoming a more and more popular product all over the world. The demand is rising due to its unique flavour characteristics and health benefits.
One of the most interesting facts about cascara is that it’s the most nutritional part of coffee cherries. The skin is rich with vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, protein, and beneficial bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and caffeine. Polyphenols are a category of compounds naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate and wine. They can act as antioxidants in our bodies protecting us from conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.
As previously mentioned the coffee fruit skin also contains caffeine like the coffee beans inside the cherry. Caffeine level in the skin is about 1/10th that of Arabica coffee beans. Though the level of caffeine in cascara can slightly change depending on the coffee cherry processing method.
Despite all of these interesting facts the most pleasant part of cascara is obviously the taste. The flavour characteristics can also vary depending on the coffee type and the processing method. One can find delicate hints of rosehip, hibiscus and dried fruits in the taste of this flavourful drink.
Cascara drink needs to be brewed like a tisane or a herbal tea. Use an ordinary teapot, take 15g of cascara and pour it with 300ml of hot water. Let it brew for 8-10 min. Decant and enjoy. You can also try to cool it before drinking!
We recommend you experiment with the ratio and time to find your perfect combination. Try the Costa Rican Cascara we offer at our online shop.