Better coffee. One cup at a time.

Tag: coffee processing

What is Cascara? – Exploring Coffee Cherry Tea

Cascara (a.k.a. coffee cherry tea) is something that is picking up steam in the craft coffee world. A few years ago, I would hear some mentions of it here or there but would have had to actively search if I wanted to find some (let alone a recipe for brewing it up). These days, I see cascara in many coffee shops and online roasters. If you have questions about this trending fruit tea, here is an informational and brewing guide.

What is Cascara?

A brief history

Coffee is the seed of a fleshy, cherry-like fruit that grown primarily between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (you can read more about green coffee here). In most cases, the flesh of the coffee cherry is removed and discarded during coffee processing. This discarded flesh from coffee processing can be a nuisance and can even create a pollution problem if it is not dealt with properly.

WARNING: Do not confuse cascara made from coffee cherries with Cascara Sagrada. Cascara Sagrada (sacred bark) is the dried bark of the cascara buckthorn plant that grows in the Pacific Northwest. It has an extremely bitter taste (allegedly) and is known for its laxative properties.

Traditional consumption of coffee cherry tea is thought to be even older than roasting the coffee seeds (beans). Legend has it that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian herdsman (Kaldi) and his goats. He began making a caffeinated tea out of the fruit (which eventually morphed into roasting the seeds themselves). A drink made from the coffee fruit has been consumed in Yemen (called qishr*) and Ethopia (called hashara) ever since. Cascara is also consumed in Bolivia under the traditional name of sultana.

The credit for the recent rise of cascara’s popularity has been given to Aida Batlle, a renowned coffee grower from El Salvador. It is said that during a cupping, Batlle made an infusion out of some discarded coffee cherries and coined the phrase cascara (which means skin or husk in Spanish) because coffee pulp wasn’t a very marketable name.

Continue reading

What is Green Coffee?- Raw Coffee Beans Explained

Enjoying a cup of coffee with it’s intricate flavors and comforting aromas seldom leads the average consumer down the road to wondering what all went into making such a delicious brew.

The fact of the matter is, with a misnomer like coffee bean floating around, most people don’t even know what they are drinking let alone all the delicate steps it took to process the coffee before it even arrived from origin to be roasted.

Not only is learning about what coffee is and it’s processing at origin interesting, it can shed some light on the semi-cryptic coffee lexicon and help you better understand the flavors you are tasting in your coffee and why those flavors are there in the first place.

What is coffee exactly?

Raw coffee is a small green seed that comes from a coffee tree.

The Coffea Arabica plant is a tree that grows primarily between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The coffee tree produces a cherry-like fruit that is most often called the coffee cherry. Inside of the fruit are two flat bottomed seeds that sit back to back in the center of the cherry. When the cherries are ripe they are harvested, the fruit is discarded, and the coffee seed is processed, dried, and bagged up for shipment.

Continue reading