It might not sound like a gourmet liquid delight, but cascara (which means ‘peel’ in Spanish), is the husk from the dried skins of coffee cherries, a by-product of the coffee making process. The pulped skins are collected after the coffee beans have been removed from the cherries and dried in the sun. The dried skins are then used to make a cool infusion that’s hot in the coffee world right now. As a natural product, cascara can be as diverse as the coffee beans themselves and packs a punch with sweet, fruity flavours and notes of cherry, redcurrant, mango or even tobacco. While cascara isn’t exactly coffee, it isn’t tea either, and curiosity about it is growing rapidly.
James Wallace is flying the cascara flag in Glasgow, saying, ‘having cascara on your menu and offering samples makes people ask questions, and unlike coffee it’s really flexible and easy to work with, so you can serve it almost any way you can imagine. It also tastes great cold, far better than any iced coffee I’ve had.’ James plans to keep growing his cascara menu, ‘I’d persuade everyone to give it a go, the more people who use it, the better the availability and quality will become.’ If you can’t decide whether you like coffee or tea best, now you can sort of have both at once.
Give James’ signature orange and basil cascara go yourself with one of the recipes he was serving at the Glasgow Coffee Festival
1 Add 800g of boiling water to 48g of cascara and 5g of fresh basil leaves, preferably in a french press. Brew for 10 minutes.
2 Meanwhile take 300g of fresh orange juice and gently reduce by half in a pan.
3 Take a 11 litre Kilner jar and add 50g of honey through a funnel.
4 Once you’ve brewed and filtered the cascara mix, add this to the jar, then add the orange reduction.
5 Shake and spin the bottle to melt the honey into the mixture then place in an ice bath to rapidly chill. It will keep for around two weeks in the fridge.
6 To serve, add equal parts cascara syrup to tonic water, preferably over ice with a basil leaf for garnish.