Cascara! Good for you, the farmer and the fish

Cascara! Good for you, the farmer and the fish

We're now serving Cold Brew Cascara in the cafe and at the Great Barrington Farmer's Market. We've known about it for a while, but it was while we were in Panama last February that we grew to love it. And not just for the taste. It also happens to be super-high in antioxidants, great for the environment and even better for the farmers who grow it. 


What it is

All coffee is grown as a cherry. The seed of the cherry is our beloved coffee bean, which we roast, grind, brew and drink. Cascara, which means “husk” in Spanish, is the skin and pulp of the coffee cherry which are dried in the sun with the bean inside per the natural process. When the time comes, the dried skin and pulp are taken off the bean. We now import this and cold brew it for 22 hours to bring you Cold Brew Cascara. 

Why it's so good for you, the farmer and the fish

  1. It's really good for you. It has 10% of the caffeine of coffee, and is off the hook on anti-oxidants. If you want to geek out on ORAC values, look no further. Spoiler: Cascara has 3x the antioxidants of acai berry and 7x that of blueberries.
  2. It's really good for the environment. This "byproduct" used to get dumped in the rivers, depleting them of oxygen, and hence, life. It now gets used as either compost or exported as cascara. And the fish thank you for buying it.
  3. It's great for the farmers. It's now another revenue stream for the farmers beyond the coffee bean


The origins

Cascara (or, rather brewing the coffee fruit/skin as a tea) is not new at all. In fact, it's very old and goes by many names. The name Cascara originated in El Salvador where a coffee grower discovered the beverage and named it after the Spanish word for husk or skin. In Ethiopia, it is known as Geshar or Hashara; in Bolivia, Sultana; In Yemen, Qishr. 

It was centuries ago in Yemen and Ethiopia, the birthplace of all coffee, that they started brewing the skin as a tea. In fact, it is the first way that coffee was served as a beverage, before they discovered the magic that could come from roasting and grinding and brewing the bean.


How it tastes

Nothing like coffee, first of all. It has a natural date-like sweetness and a dry, tannic finish. It is fruity-flavored but not much like a fruit you know. If pressed, we'd go with rose hip, hibiscus, cherry, mango, apricot or even tobacco. Regardless, it pairs exceedingly well with mint, lime, ginger and lemon and we love it with a splash of seltzer to bring it alive. We'd love to hear your thoughts! 


How to make it

You can make it as a:

  • Hot Brewed Tea: 18 g. cascara per 25 g. hot water, steep 4 minutes
  • Cold Brew Tea: 35g. cascara to 250 g. cold water, steep 22 hours in refrigerator.


How to get fancy 

Cascara Fizz

  • Take cascara cold brew concentrate and add a splash of seltzer
  • Add simple syrup if you want it a little sweeter
  • Options to add:
    • Mint and lime
    • Ginger juice and simple syrup
    • Ginger juice and fresh lemonade
    • Ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, caraway (Yemeni style)


Dark and Stormy

4 oz. ginger beer
½ oz. fresh lime juice
Cascara tea concentrate
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: lime peel

Combine the lime juice and ginger beer in an Old Fashioned glass over ice and stir to combine. Float the cascara concentrate on top of the mixture and garnish. (Onyx Coffee Lab)


Maple Cascara Mojito

  • 1 1/2 c cold-brewed Cascara
  • 1 1/2 c rum
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 5 limes
  • Handful of mint + extra for garnish
Muddle mint in bottom of pitcher. Pour cascara and rum into pitcher and squeeze in juice from 3 limes. Add maple syrup while stirring. Cut up last 2 limes into wedges. Split between pitcher and glasses for serving. Let sit a few minutes, add ice and pour into glasses. Rub rim of glasses with mint and garnish with mint and a lime wedge. 

Cascara No. 1

1 oz. gin
1 oz. cold-brew cascara tea
½ oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. grapefruit cordial*
3 dashes Angostura
Tools: mixing glass
Glass: rocks
Garnish: microgreens (or a grapefruit twist)

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill. Serve over fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish. (Josh Conley, Memphis)


Grapefruit Cordial

1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
¼ cup honey
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 whole cloves
2 ounces vodka

Add first four ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the liquid to cool, leaving the rosemary and cloves in to steep. Once cooled, remove the rosemary and cloves, stir in vodka, and bottle. (Josh Conley, Memphis)


Breakfast Toddy

Hot cascara tea with a dollop of orange marmalade and 1½ oz. of spiced rum. Good morning! (44 North)


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