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What The Heck Is Cascara?

Coffee trends. Not unlike many of our favorite things, java is subject to ebbs and flows in preference, flavor and style. Cold brew, matcha, pour over are only a few of the equally wonderful caffeine-friendly trends to hit the scene. The new guy on the block that you may already recognize is, Cascara. But what is Cascara? Let’s talk about that…

The name Cascara is a Spanish word meaning husk, skin, or peel. This checks out, as Cascara is literally the dried skins of coffee cherries. Not unlike a nut, coffee beans are removed from the cherries and a skin or “shell” is left behind. Once the cherry skins are dried in the sun they are packaged and shipped to your favorite coffee shop to be brewed into delicious liquid. But what’s it taste like? Is Cascara coffee?

Not exactly! We would describe Cascara as a coffee, tea hybrid. While the product is derived from the coffee plant, it doesn’t taste anything like coffee. People describe it as having a sweeter, more floral taste, not unlike many teas. The caffeine content in Cascara also differs from that of a cup of joe. Prepared in its strongest form Cascara produces about a fourth of the caffeine you’d normally find in a cup of coffee. All signs seem to point this ambiguous liquid to the tea category. But wait! Scientifically speaking Cascara cannot be classified as a tea due to the plant species from which it originates. But what do we do if we can’t label this exotic libation!? It looks like tea and tastes like tea but it’s first cousins with coffee?

In recent months Cascara has become more popular in America but has been consumed in countries like Yemen and Ethiopia for centuries. It is a versatile product that can be served hot and cold and is completely sustainable eliminating the waste that is produced from harvesting coffee. There are even brands that have been adding notes of Cascara into their blends. With the assumption that if they grow together they compliment each other. We can’t imagine this coffee-tea Frankenstein replacing our daily cup but it’s intrigue is undeniable, as is its popularity.