cascara

You may notice that something called Cascara has gained popularity among the coffee aficionados; everyone seems to talk about it nowadays. Yet, most of us have little knowledge about this uncharted territory of the coffee industry.

There is no need to worry. After you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll have no questions about the controversial cascara coffee (or tea?). From its definition to health benefits, we’ve covered everything you need to know about it.

Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s find out what it is.

cascara tea
“Cascara Tea” by Migle Seikyte is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

What is Cascara?

In Spanish, cascara means husk or shell. Likewise, we use cascara to describe the name of the dry skin of coffee beans, seeds of the coffee fruit. After these beans are harvested and removed from the cherries, farmers collect the dried and pulped skins. Collected skins are left to dry under the sun and afterwards they are packaged by farmers. If nothing goes wrong, then the skins are shipped all over the world.

Why putting so much effort, you might ask. After all, isn’t it just a byproduct of the production process; how can it be beneficial to us?

With the increasing demand for cascara, farmers and the coffee industry may benefit financially from it. Instead of just throwing them away, farmers should sell them to make money. Research [mm1] suggested that selling and exporting cascara helps farmers’ economies by doubling it. The selling of cascara would also greatly affect the developing countries that depend on the coffee exportation and can help the farmers all around the world live a better life.

what is cascara
“CAFE SIN CASCARA” by Christian Frausto Bernal is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Discarding of skins that are separated from the beans causes a huge environmental damage. To clarify, almost %40 of the coffee pulp and husk goes to waste and therefore perpetuates the worsening food waste problem.

In addition, nearly %95 of the skin that is thrown away goes directly to landfill and exacerbates yet another threat: climate change. The discarded husk and shell go through a chemical process which releases greenhouse gas methane at the end. Greenhouse gas methane is 20 times more dangerous compared to carbon dioxide as it traps more heat that causes climate change. To sum up, farmers shouldn’t throw them to landfills as this can lead to more serious problems. Instead, selling them to those who demand it would help farmers and their countries financially.

Is It a Coffee or Tea?

The most frequently asked question regarding cascara: is it coffee or tea? The answer is: neither of them.

Although considered as tea, cascara is a product of genus coffee instead of Camellia sinensis, the tea tree. What’s more, it can’t be considered as herbal tea also as it is made from fruit, not from herbs.

In addition, coffee is not the word for it either. Yes, it comes from a coffee plant but it doesn’t exactly taste like a coffee. Instead, cascara has a direct opposite flavor; fruity, sweet flavors with exotic fruit and herb notes. The caffeine content is also too low to be a regular coffee; cascara has 110 mg caffeine while the other coffees tend to have 300-700 mg of caffeine in it.

The perfect name for it can be coffee cherry tea. Cascara combines the best features of coffee and tea, and becomes a truly joyful beverage to drink.

Cascara’s Flavor

cascara's-flavor
“Cascara Tea” by christybaugh is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

With fruity and herbal tones, and the delicate sweetness, cascara is a joy to drink. It has a beautiful smell that reminds you of nature and is refreshing enough to help you pull an all-nighter. As a result of its flavor being reminiscent of hibiscus and cider, cascara is mostly used to make herbal tea (tisane).

Apart from this, syrups made from cascara tea usually taste legendary. The rich fruity and herbal notes, with a flavor that is reminiscent of brown-sugar, these syrups will definitely meet all your needs.

Daunting at first glance with its exceptional flavor, cascara is the best way to make hay while the sun shines.

Where is The Birthplace of Cascara?

cascara fruit
“Cascara? Nope…” by Dale Simonson is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Like our beloved coffee, cascara originated in Ethiopia, the land of coffee. Yet, Ethiopians have a different method to make the most of the skins. Cascara, the skin of coffee cherries, are usually darkly roasted. Afterwards, the husks are filled with water to bring out the fruity flavor in it. This process results in delicious and unique drinks called Hashara and Geshar.

In another country famous for its coffee, Yemen, the tea made of cascara is called “Qishr”. In addition to cascara, the locals add ginger, cinnamon and hibiscus into the recipe.

If we were to go to another continent, let’s say South America for instance, a different method will welcome us. Bolivia, one of the prominent coffee countries in South America, differs from other countries slightly in terms of the cascara producing process. First the cascara fruit is left under the sun to dry for a while and then the husks are roasted lightly. In the last step, the husks are grounded to make one of the best flavored teas out there.

Does Cascara Contain Caffeine?

Cascara, in terms of caffeine level, is more similar to tea than coffee. It has only the quarter of the amount of the caffeine that a regular brewed coffee has. Yet, we can safely say that a black tea and tea made from a cascara plant, coffee cherry tea, contains almost the same amount of caffeine.

If you have a big project coming on, you might want to choose regular ol’ coffee rather than a delicious but low caffeinated cascara tea.

Health Benefits of Cascara

Did you know that cascara and cascara sagrada, or as the locals say sacred bark, has many benefits to our health? Let’s look at three of the most important ones.

Laxative

Cascara sagrada, dried bark from the Californian buckthorn tree, was commonly used as a laxative before it was declared unsafe by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Although it was prohibited to use it in medicines, cascara can still be found as an ingredient in some herbal supplements and prescription laxatives.

To sum up, you might see cascara as a laxative as it is helpful when treating constipation. Especially those who prefer natural laxatives over chemical ones commonly use it as it’s considered as a stimulant laxative.

Antioxidants

You probably knew that coffee has a lot of antioxidants in it. Well, it is only natural that also coffee fruit has antioxidants in it. From cell repair to managing daily body functions, antioxidants are a crucial part of our lives and the best way to get them is by drinking a delicious cascara tea. According to research, cascara is really rich in antioxidants. That is because a regular brewed coffee loses some of its antioxidants during the roasting process while cascara doesn’t.

Low Caffeine

The same research concluded that cascara has only the quarter of caffeine amount that a regular brewed coffee has, with 226 mg caffeine in cascara and 400-800 mg in regular brewed coffee. If consuming too much caffeine is dangerous for you or you want to get a proper sleep at night, you might want to go for the beloved cascara.

Conclusion

Having gained a lot of popularity in recent years, cascara is a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. With its several health benefits, unique flavor and rich history, it really is a must try drink. Give cascara a chance and we promise, you won’t be disappointed.

What is Cascara? A Different Taste

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