Region: Caranavi Province
Altitude: 1,500 – 1,800 metres above sea level
Variety: VariousCity: Caranavi
Farmers: Various small-holders delivering to the Buena Vista Mill
Processing: Coffee cherry dried on raised screens
Owner: Pedro Rodriguez
In the cup: Bright cranberry acidity, with plum, apple and elderflower notes.
Cascara, meaning ‘skin’ or ‘peel’ in Spanish, is a novel way of recycling left over coffee pulp, which is produced in huge quantities when ripe coffee cherries are pulped before the beans are washed and dried. In most producing countries this pulp is traditionally seen as worthless and is usually broken down and used as fertilizer – but it is also possible to dry this left over cherry to create the base for a unique and refreshing tea.
Although few have heard of it, cascara has a very long and interesting history. Coffee farmers in Yemen and Ethiopia have in fact been drying and brewing cherry like this for centuries – possibly since before coffee seeds were first used to make a drink. In these countries the dried cherry is often steeped along with spices such as ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon to make a fragrant drink known as Hashara in Ethiopia or Qishr in Yemen.
This particular cascara is the dried cherry from various high grown organic coffees processed at the Buena Vista mill in Caranavi, in the heart of one of Bolivia’s prime coffee-producing areas. All of these coffees are grown at over 1,500 metres by small producers in the Caranavi region – a lush, fertile area of steep valleys and mountains that provides habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Caranavi’s small, traditional family farms average around 5 hectares each, and are often planted out with citrus trees as well as coffee. Most farms use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides and this cascara was produced using cherry from fully organic certified producers.
Cascara is still a relatively new ingredient in most countries and so ripe for experimentation (excuse the pun!). We have tried brewing it various ways and we like using a French Press the best (recipe below), but you could also try using a tea pot, an Eva Solo or any other method you can dream up! If you hit on a particularly ingenious way of brewing cascara please do get in touch as we’d love to hear about it…
Use 5-15g of cascara per 200ml (experiment!)
Brew for 4 minutes in a French press
Stir 3 times
Wait an additional 3 minutes