3 of a Kind: Cascara Drinks

With the flavor of an herbal tea and a java-like jolt of caffeine, cascara is a refreshing, energizing and waste-free alternative to coffee. Here are three places using it in cool ways.
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3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

Making coffee is like seeding a grape. A cup of joe is the result of an intense production process that strips the seed from the husk of a fresh coffee cherry. Those beans are roasted, grinded, then dripped, pressed or steeped into 400 million cups per day in the United States, leaving a whole lot of byproduct in their wake. Rather than compost the remains, third-wave coffee producers are using that leftover dried fruit and hull to make cascara. With the flavor of an herbal tea and a java-like jolt of caffeine, cascara is refreshing, energizing and waste-free.

  Either/Or, Portland, Ore.

This charming Portland cafe offers a monthly mocktail menu featuring items made from coffee and all of its components. The first was a coffee Negroni made from cascara “Campari.” Owner Ro Tam cooks the tea with grapefruit peels and beet juice to mimic the aperitif. For the gin component, she infuses cold brew with pine, allspice and juniper. It’s all mixed together with a vermouth-like liquid of herbs in a grape juice. This month the featured coffee cocktail is an alcohol-free Bloody Mary made with housemade coffee cherry shrubs, fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, horseradish and carrot juice.

Blue Bottle, New York City, Los Angeles and Select Bay Area Locations

Originated in the Bay Area, this mini chain of cafes specializes in pour-over coffee. The goal is to expose customers to the taste of java at its freshly roasted peak. Two years ago, the company began offering coffee cherry tea from Aida Batlle’s Finca Tanzania at select locations. The tea is available in a few styles at locations throughout NYC, LA and the Bay Area, but the most-unique variety is the snow cone-style cascara fizz: tea mixed with sparkling water, simple syrup and a wedge of lemon over shaved ice. It’s available at select locations across the country.

Neptune Coffee, Seattle

If it’s happening in the American coffee scene, it’s definitely popping up in the American capital of caffeine. This independent coffee shop turns the tea into a refreshing bubbly beverage. Using Kuma Coffee’s cascara, sourced from El Salvador’s Los Pirineos, the folks here make a coffee cherry soda. The tea is infused into a simple syrup, then topped with carbonated water for a completely invigorating drink.

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