Jori Korhonen //
// 3.4.2017

Cascara: The Delicious Left-Over

Coffee beans are seeds that grow inside of a coffee cherry. We usually only use beans from the cherry but actually a lot of the taste of the coffee comes from the fruit. During recent year or so, the coffee world has realized that we are able to use the fruit as well.  I think we’re on a verge of a real game changer.

What is cascara?

Coffee cherries cascara

The name ´cascara´ comes from the Spanish word “cáscara” which means “husk”, “peel” or “skin”. As I mentioned earlier coffee beans grow inside of a coffee cherry. Before the green coffee bean can be roasted into a delicious brown bean that we cherish, it has to be separated from the cherry. There are some other processing methods also, but the most used ones are;

  • natural
  • washed
  • honey (semi-washed/pulped natural)

Coffee beans absorb flavors from the fruit but a lot is left in the fruit. After the fruit has been separated from the bean, it is dried in sunshine where it gets its tea-like essence. This is when it becomes cascara. So basically cascara to coffee is quite the same as raisins are to grapes. Before shipping it’s packed into those same coffee bags and imported here to us the same way as coffee.
Unfortunately cascara is available in only a few roasteries in Europe so it can be hard to get. We will be testing some recipes this spring and experimenting different kind of beverages that you can make from cascara in Paulig Kulma. Now I can already say that it works perfectly with gin tonic and as a nitro version. Stay tuned!

Social responsibility - how can we help farmers earn more?

This aspect I like a lot. By using cascara, we would be able to help the farmers to earn more and this way raise their and their employee’s standard of living. Nowadays the fruit or cascara is just thrown away or used as fertilizer. By also selling cascara, the farmers would be able to grow their business and maybe invest in production by improving the process of growing and processing coffee. At the same time, our consumption would be more sustainable.

In my opinion, cascara provides the coffee business with big opportunities for the future, much more than just drinks that can be made out of it. The fruit is also processed to make coffee powder which can be used in for example baking. Serving cascara in your café will be an excellent chance to educate your customers. Many customers don’t know coffee that well, other than taste-wise, so conversations about cascara can raise their knowledge of what happens to coffee before it hits their cup. So add cascara to your menu in one way or another and maybe put it out there as I’ve done in the picture on the right. 

How to use cascara?

coffee beans and cascara

Use it as you would use tea.

  1. Mix it with hot water and let it steep for 2.5 - 5 minutes. I’ve used 20g/1l brew ratio which has been pleasant.
  2. Remove the cascara and you will have nicely sweet, plum-like, hot beverage which has some caffeine in it (about 1/6 when compared to coffee; read more here). No need for any additives.

Are you feeling fancy? Make some cascara syrup!

  1. Use 45g of cascara to 400ml of water and let it steep for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the cascara and add something sweet (brown sugar, honey, cane syrup), 3-6 tablespoons.
  3. Chill it in the fridge for a few hours and you’re ready to go!

Try the recipes below!

Cascara Soda

  • 250ml glass
  • ice cubes
  • 60ml cascara syrup
  • 100-120ml soda

Cascara Gin & Tonic

  • 250ml glass
  • ice cubes
  • 30ml cascara syrup
  • 4cl gin
  • 150ml tonic water
  • (some lime if you feel like it)

I can guarantee that this will be a hit at your summer cottage house warming party!