Barista Magazine

JUN-JUL 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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content of the fi nal beverage, while steep time seems to make little dif- ference," Anette wrote on Square Mile's blog. "Surprisingly, we found the caffeine content to be fairly low. Even at the strongest, longest brew, the caffeine content of cascara came in at 111.4 mg/L, compared to [a] broad range of about 400–800 mg/L in brewed coffee." When we talk about combining cascara with coffee, whether hot or cold, it's important to keep in mind the extra caffeine you'll be consum- ing as compared to a cup of coffee without cascara. "The fi rst time I made a cascara cold-brew coffee, I got really over caffeinated, and I didn't understand why I felt so different drinking this coffee that I'd had a million times before," says Matt Milletto, who owns Portland, Ore.'s Water Avenue Coffee. "And then I was like, 'Oh! Now it makes sense!'" Cascara Goes Cold As the newest coffee product on the market in 2005, hot cascara tea became all the rage, with respected and infl uential companies like Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Ore., quickly adding it to their café menus and testifying to its unusual, tropical fruit fl avor. The opportunities for using it and incorporating it into your coffee program are seemingly endless, and it was only a matter of time before people tried it cold. Blue Bottle Coffee in Venice, Calif., was among the fi rst to create a cold cascara drink in 2007, and it's become one of the most popular drinks at the company's more than 70 cafés in the United States and Japan. It's called the Cascara Fizz, and it's pretty simple: Cascara tea is brewed hot, then chilled, and prepared on-demand for customers. "In the cafés we pour that tea over some sparkling water with a lemon wedge to garnish, and it basically tastes like a sparkling Arnold Palmer," says Selina Viguera, café leader at Blue Bottle in Venice. Selina says she likes offering the Cascara Fizz because it gives baris- tas "the opportunity to talk about what cascara is. A lot of the people that we see in our shop aren't necessarily super familiar with coffee … so it gives us an opportunity to talk about the fact that we make a syrup out of the dried coffee fruit." Jenny Bonchak in Raleigh, N.C., started bottling her now widely dis- tributed Slingshot Coffee Co. cold brew in 2012 using Counter Culture Coffee. Through Counter Culture—where her husband Jonathan, who now works with her at Slingshot, was employed at the time—Jenny met and hit it off with Aida. The idea for a bottled cascara iced tea was born, and before long, the two had partnered. To this day, Aida is the exclusive provider of cascara for Slingshot's tea, which is sold at Whole Foods and other grocery stores across the United States. Water Avenue Coffee's Matt has used cascara in a variety of drinks and collaborations with other local businesses. With Steven Smith Tea, for example, Matt created a milled cascara tea bag for easy steeping. He created a cascara liqueur with New Deal Distillery that has taken off in popularity both with bartenders and home users, who enjoy it added to soda water or used in a cocktail as a sweetener. "It's really fun to imagine and play with lots of ideas," he says. "We've added cascara syrup to whipped cream, we've blended it into coffee milkshakes, we've brewed it with coffee grounds. Sometimes it's amazing, and of course, sometimes it's just an exercise in, 'OK, that won't work in the café.'" Cascara in Cold Coffee Given that it's a part of the coffee plant itself, cascara combined with brewed coffee makes for a delightful—if unusual—pairing. As with tea-based beverages, the possibilities for formulas mixing the two are endless. Matt says Water Avenue is working on a kegged nitro coffee drink that uses cascara. He's still playing with the recipe, but he says it'll likely incorporate honey and be offered as a seasonal, springtime drink. His baristas also use a housemade cascara syrup as an add-on to both hot and cold-brewed coffees in the cafés. You know a coffee trend is getting big when Starbucks takes notice: The company debuted the Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew in the spring of 2018, and it's already gaining popularity with customers. It can be ordered in one of three ways: as a cold foam "Blonde" iced cascara cappuccino, a cold foam cascara nitro cold brew, or in its original itera- tion, coffee brewed with cascara syrup and topped by a blend of nonfat milk and cascara syrup, foamed cold. It's topped with cascara "crystals," which are simply a cascara-fl avored raw sugar. Independent café owners are already seeing the results of Starbucks' latest drink craze in customer orders. "I've had people ask us what cascara is, do we have any cascara, can we add cascara to a drink," says Steven Bosker of BeanTowne Coffee House in Boston. "It was actually pretty cool because we have this opportunity to educate our customers." Jenny of Slingshot is excited about the opening to expand the coffee category that cascara brings, as well. "We're seeing a lot more interest- ing cascara drinks," she says. "But I think more than anything it's about education and helping people understand why it's so important to have good cascara." On the coffee competition stage, baristas have presented cascara as part of their cold beverages in both the World Barista Championship (WBC) and the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship (WCIGS). Most successful of these was Martin Hudák of Slovakia, who won the 2017 WCIGS with a drink comprising Gesha coffee, gin, lemon foam, and a cascara syrup made from the husks of his coffee. He created the drink in an effort to shine a light on "how global changes such as warming, pollution, etc. directly affect farms and farmers, and will affect our daily routine in bars and coffee shops in the future," he told Barista Magazine in an interview just after his win. Of including the cascara from the coffee he was using, Martin says, "I want to convince other competitors to start searching for other alternatives and ways to use ingredients smartly." Steven of BeanTowne cites the same positive results of incorporat- ing cascara in his café's menu. "It's wonderful when we can use all the parts of the coffee," he says, noting how much he enjoys coffee blos- som honey. "It makes our industry overall that much more sustainable." Quality matters Matt of Water Avenue Coffee agrees that high-grade cascara is key to great drinks. All of the cascara his company uses come from 90+ scoring coffees. "The higher-quality coffee pulp provides for really a lot of ripe, fruit fl avor, and a lot of natural sweetness," he says. Aida says that cascara from inferior coffee tastes "musty, dirty. Some companies do use substandard cascara in their drinks, and it gives the whole thing a bad name. Usually they try to cover up the gross taste with a lot of sugar. Really good cascara has a delicate and subtle fl avor. Not only does it not need sugar, but sugar would ruin it because it would overpower the nuances." Further, Matt stresses the importance of cascara harvesting in im- proving incomes and opportunities for coffee farmers. "We pay a premium price to our partners so it really serves as an ad- ditional resource [for farmers]," he says, "and we pay quite a bit, almost as much per pound as we do our green coffee, so it's another profi t for the farmer." Speaking from the producers' side, Aida has similar feelings. "I think it's great that there's a lot of interest in it. It really helps producers by getting extra income from a product that they would have just been composting." Sarah Allen contributed to this article. 86 barista magazine

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