Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD about cascara, and likely as a tea—and a hot tea, at that. This dried coffee cherry husk, however, has plenty to offer a cold brew, as well. Renowned Salvadoran coffee producer Aida Batlle was the fi rst in Latin America to give the fruit pulp a name and a purpose: Cascara , which translates to "bark" or "shell" in Spanish, has become for Aida and plenty of others a whole additional revenue stream. "I walked into the cupping lab and there was this amazing hibiscus tamarind smell, and I was like, 'What is that?'" Aida says of her 2005 realization. Known for her unconventional and experimental practices in such areas as harvesting and processing, the fi fth-generation cof- fee farmer swept the dried pulp from the table into her hand, dropped it in a glass of hot water, and waited for it to steep. She tasted it, she says, "and then I started calling my customers." Coffee, Tea, or … ? Cascara isn't exactly coffee, but it isn't tea either. Cascara comes from the genus Coffea instead of the Camellia sinensis —i.e., tea—plant, so it can't be categorized as a true tea. Some folks call it an herbal tea or beverage, but it's not an herb. The closest beverage a cascara brew can be pinned to is likely a tisane, since it's a fruit, and tisanes are often made from fruit. Aida favors the pulp from wet-processed coffees, though that fi rst cascara she brewed in 2005 came from a natural-processed coffee. "It's a lot sweeter," she says of the wet-processed pulp, "and it clumps up when you add hot water to it." She adds that the wet-processed cascara pulp holds a larger shape than its natural counterpart, which tends to break into small pieces much more easily. At Aida's Finca Kilimanjaro, coffee cherries are separated from the seed in the processing stage and left whole. The cherry fruit is then washed clean, which removes some of the pulp from the husk. Then the cherries are laid out on raised drying beds for four days under shade, throughout which they are raked and turned at regular intervals to ensure even aeration. Aida advises café owners interested in buying cascara to make sure that they get it tested in a lab to ensure there are no traces of chemicals or other unhealthy elements. She herself tests the cascara from her family farms every year for any potentially harmful chemicals or toxins. When cascara was new on the market, urban legends quickly circulated about the caffeine content of the brew. "People were saying everything—that it was really low, or super high," Aida remembers. One of her longtime coffee customers wanted to know exactly how much was in cascara: Co-owner of Square Mile Coffee in London, Anette Moldvaer sent some cascara to a lab in Germany to test it. "As expected, [the] ratio of cascara to water has an impact on the caffeine Cascara NEW ADVENTURES IN COLD BREW: Article by Victoria Brown Photography by Joshua Vasko 84 barista magazine

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