From the re-emergence of pour-over and hand-brewed coffee to the increasing demand for tea, the specialty coffee and tea industries have experienced a lot of changes in the past couple of years. Among those developments has been a new, exotic drink on the scene: cascara, also known as coffee cherry tea. While the beverage has been slowly popping up in cafés around the globe, it can still be difficult to find. As such, those who haven’t yet stumbled across the elusive cascara may be curious about what the drink actually is.
Cascara, which means “husk,” “peel” or “skin” in Spanish, is the dried skins of coffee cherries. These pulped skins are collected after the seeds (aka coffee beans) have been removed from the cherries. They are then dried in the sun before they are packaged and shipped off. These dried bags of coffee cherries are not unlike bags of tea—the main visual difference is the pieces of cherries are slightly bigger than a tea leaf and have a leathery, woody look similar to dried raisins or the shell of a nut. The neat part about this whole process is that not only does it allow for the coffee plant to be used in a creative way, but it’s also eco-friendly. Normally coffee cherries are considered a by-product of the coffee-making process and are either discarded as waste or used as compost. Now these cherries are being reused to produce a unique drink of their own. Coffee, tea or both?