What you need to know about cascara, the coffee-tea hybrid

Coffee has delighted and enchanted humans for centuries, and they're willing to pay big bucks for it, too — one 2018 survey showed that women spend an average of $2,327 on coffee each year, while men spend about $1,934 (via Amerisleep). So how come almost no one knows about cascara, a drink made from coffee plants that tastes good and helps reduce waste in the coffee making industry? 

First, some info on how coffee is grown. A coffee cherry (also called the coffee fruit) is surrounded by a protective husk, and inside of the fruit there's a seed that becomes a coffee bean. The fruit of the coffee cherry and the husk surrounding it are the cascara. This is usually either composted or thrown away, but some coffee companies are experimenting with brewing the cascara into a beverage (via Real Simple). 

It's not officially a tea, since it's grown from a coffee plant, but it also doesn't really taste like coffee. Think of it like an herbal tea, which is more accurately called a tisane (via The Kitchn). Compared to the coffee we're familiar with, brewed cascara is fruitier, and has a tea-like taste with just an essence of pure coffee flavor. What is doesn't have is the toastiness we associate with roasted coffee beans. Cascara also has a much lower caffeine content than traditional coffee, which means it could be a good choice for those who are sensitive to it (via Death Wish Coffee). 

If you want to try making cascara at home, you need to first procure the dried coffee cherries (you can buy some on Amazon), then steep about 1 to 2 tablespoons in 8 ounces of almost-boiling water. There isn't a standard formula yet, because it's such a new product, so feel free to experiment.

If you're wary of sourcing coffee cherries and trying to make the drink at home, you can try to find it at a local cafe. Starbucks even served a seasonal Cascara Latte and Cold Brew with Cascara Cold Foam, and if a company that major is willing to introduce the product to their customers, chances are you'll start seeing it pop up more and more often.