If you google “cascara,” the first hits relate to a plant called Rhamnus purshiana, which you’ll quickly learn is a natural laxative.
We’re not talking about that cascara.
Instead, we’re talking about Coffea arabica, though not in the form we usually talk about it. Cascara is the name given to the dried fruit of the coffee plant. The seed is the part we roast, grind, and brew, and the fruit is usually discarded or composted.
There is a tradition, in some coffee growing countries, of drying these fruits into a husk, then steeping that husk and making it into a tea-like beverage.
That’s the cascara that we’re talking about.
Soon, Bow Truss will offer cascara in our retail stores, and we’ll sell 4oz. bags of Cascara for you to brew at home.
The beverage varies based on the qualities of the cascara being used, but in general, it makes a sweet, spicy, fruity tea. The cascara that we have available (from the Las Lajas mill in Costa Rica — learn more) is very sweet — notes of honey and honeysuckle dominate, and the gingery, cinnamon-spice notes take a back seat.
One more quick note before we get to the recipes: Cascara’s caffeine content is mysterious. It definitely gives a caffeine-like buzz, though a well-respected roastery in the UK recently sent their cascara to a caffeine lab and found that it contains very little caffeine — as little as a quarter to an eighth of a cup of brewed coffee. There’s no consensus in the coffee world on why this is, so we’ve just been treating cascara like coffee: Not drinking it too late in the day, unless we’re gearing up for a big night.
CASCARA COLD BREW
Soak 60g cascara in 1 gallon of cold, filtered water for 12 hours. Decant through a filter, strainer, or cheesecloth. Serve over ice. Makes a sweet, light-bodied beverage. Try it on its own or as a mixer in sodas & cocktails!
HOT CASCARA TEA
Prepare as you would a black tea, steeping 3g of cascara in 100ml of just-off-boil water for 4 minutes. Strain & drink hot.