We all love a washed coffee, for its consistency and clarity of flavour. At the washing station, the skin and fruit of the mature coffee cherries (collectively called the pulp) are removed and the remaining sticky parchment coffee is put into a tank to ferment into the beautiful coffees we love.
All beautiful things about coffee are associated with Ethiopia, including cascara. Enjoyed as a local herbal infusion, it offers some caffeine kick without the full effect of coffee. Neighbouring Yemen across the Red Sea enjoys the same drink, which turns out to be more popular than coffee because it is the dried husk - a byproduct - of Yemen's natural process coffees. The sweet tea-like flavour of this drink subsequently brought it to Central and South Americas. Predominantly Spanish speaking, the drink became known as cascara which means husk in Spanish.
In the processing of coffee, there are three common manners to treat the coffee pulp, one of which is to make it into a drink. In mountainous farmlands without the resources and means to buy fertilizers (and to go for any third party certifications like 'organic certification'), farmers usually mix the pulp with other ingredients and turn it into a compost which he will use as a fertilizer or pesticide. No matter recycling the pulp back into the farm or turning it into a drink, these are sustainable and ethical farm practices which do not harm the environment.
The third way to manage the unwanted pulp is to simply dump them at the riverside or in the forest, out of view of local authorities and public eyes. Coffee farms are usually located at high elevation and at the upstream of rivers, so this means the effect of the downstream pollution is extensive. Uncontrolled fermentation of the discarded pulp produces carbon dioxide - an irresponsible act in the global fight against climate change.
If the global coffee industry can create an additional and sustainable stream of income for the farmers by means of cascara sale, we could nudge them away from the way of pollution and global warming towards sustainable farming.
Our cascara is from Golden Prawns (Shwe Pu Zun) which is a big coffee roastery and bakery in Yangon Myanmar, with numerous estates in the Shan state cultivating coffees and other produce.
[Note: Parchmen specialises in teas and tea education. In Botany, coffees are classified under the genus of Coffea and all teas are under the genus of Camellia. Since the cascara is a Coffea and not a Camellia, it should rightfully be referred to a herbal infusion or a tisane.]
Brew Flavour We are brewing the cascara like a tea in a Chinese gaiwan, at 2g to 150ml at 95°C for 90 sec. It reminds you of red dates and brown sugar on a syrupy and smooth mouthfeel. You could also brew it western style in a teapot using the same parameters and you can start pouring out the drink from the 90th sec.