Coffee Cherry Tea
Coffee trees are generally grown for …well….um….coffee, but a type of tea (or fruit tisane to be more accurate) can also be made from the very same fruit! The magical little beans contained inside the coffee cherries / berries are harvested, processed and roasted to create the coffee beverages we all love to enjoy. However the red cherry fruit surrounding the bean (which is usually discarded during the processing of the coffee beans) can be dried to make coffee cherry tea, resulting in an eco-friendly, waste-free and delicious use of a by-product of the coffee industry! Coffee cherry tea is also known as Cascara tea (Cascara meaning ‘husk’ in Spanish) but it’s not to be confused with the Cascara tree (cascara sagrada) which is commonly used as a laxative. They share a name in common but that is all.
Making coffee cherry tea is ideal for the home gardener who may have one or only a few coffee trees growing. It’s an easier alternative to processing and roasting the beans for coffee which is quite an involved and lengthy task from raw bean to cup stage and it requires an awful lot of beans to make even one cup of coffee! To make the tea, harvest the fruit when ripe, remove the beans and place the outer cherry fruit in the sun for a couple of days until it forms a dry leathery kind of texture. Store it in a sealed glass jar. You can brew immediately but best to wait at least a couple of months for the flavour to develop more. Coffee cherry tea tastes nothing like coffee and reportedly has a much lower caffeine content. It has a mildly sweet fruity taste and is especially nice made into iced tea. It’s wonderfully refreshing chilled with a sprig of mint or used as a kombucha flavouring.
Now what to do with all of the coffee beans you’ve removed? Option 1: if keen on home processing/roasting your own coffee, give it a go! Option 2: plant them because coffee beans are actually seeds. They are slow to germinate and can take at least a couple of months before seeing any signs of life so be patient. Option 3: compost them!
So there you have it… the fruit from a coffee tree can also be used for tea. The best of both worlds!
This is a blog post that I had originally written and published on the Infinite Earth - Organic Market website in October 2018.