top of page

Coffee And Its Byproducts: Unveiling The Marvels Of Cascara

Indulge in the world of coffee once again because, let's face it, there's never enough of it, right? Almost everyone loves it, and there are numerous possibilities hidden in the byproducts generated during its production and consumption.

cascara is the dried version of coffeecherries without the coffee bean

Coffee Grounds

You've probably heard of this already, as it's generated in almost every household. According to last year's statistics, we produce nearly 60 million tons of coffee grounds worldwide each year... 😲 You can put it to good use in your home (not the 60 million tons, but a tiny part of it 🤪) in countless ways. Just to name a few: it keeps away your arch-enemies at summer garden gatherings, aka: repels mosquitoes; gets rid of fleas on your dog; all while nourishing your skin and giving your home a clean touch, etc. These usage methods are what we call downcycling.


However, you can also breathe new life into coffee grounds through  upcycling – we even wrote an article about it. You might want to sit down for this revelation: coffee grounds are indeed edible! And that's just the beginning; they contain antioxidants and dietary fibers, making them a healthy choice! You can use them in marinades, to tenderize meats, in cookies (enhancing the chocolate flavor), and we've used them to flavor our Moka Brewer's Granola 😊


💡At Mad Dog Coffee Hangar (our source of this valuable ingredient for the above mentioned granola), approximately 8 kilograms of coffee grounds accumulate daily. With this, we can produce nearly 57 kilograms of 'double upcycled' Moka Brewer's Granola!"


Cascara

Speaking of upcycling and downcycling – a tongue twister indeed – we'll delve into that shortly. But for now, let's focus on our blog's protagonist, ladies and gentlemen, the Cascara!


Whatscara???

Cascara is nothing but the dried version of the fruit of the coffee plant, the coffee cherry (including its flesh and skin). Cascara and the beverages made from it are rich in caffeine, antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins (for example C and B2), zinc, and magnesium. It's not just nutritious; it boasts a unique flavor profile – pleasantly fruity and tangy. Depending on the variety, you might detect notes of date, hibiscus, blueberry, rosehip, or we had a customer, who even likened it to red pepper...🌶️


two whole coffee cherries cut and one in half and a coffee bean in half on table

In the past, the flesh of the coffee cherry was often discarded or, at best, composted. However, locals have long known its versatile uses: it served as a base for teas, jams, and was even consumed as "sultana" in Bolivia or as a beverage called "qishr" in certain parts of Yemen. Today, with a growing interest in sustainability, more people recognize the potential of cascara. Once dried, it can be easily transported, and in 2022, its sale and consumption were approved in Europe.


Upcycling

In a world where food waste has reached alarming proportions, it's time to explore the possibilities within our favorite foods.


💡Did you know a significant portion of food is wasted during production and manufacturing?

💡And did you know that approximately 6 kilograms of cherries yield about 1 kilogram of green coffee beans?


This means that so far, 5 kg of nutrient-rich and edible parts of the coffee cherry have been discarded (or composted), contributing not only to waste but also releasing methane and other harmful substances into the environment during decomposition.


Now, let's take a moment to clarify the tongue twister mentioned earlier – what's the difference between upcycling, recycling, and downcycling? (Bless you!😆) Essentially, we have three types of recycling: upcycling, recycling, and downcycling. The efficiency of renewing the material's value and quality depends on which one we choose.


For example
  • Downcycling: the coffee cherry, despite being such a valuable food item, is used for composting

  • Upcycling: drying the flesh and skin of the coffee cherry (cascara) allows for the creation of unique teas (among its many preparation methods), preserving its nutritional content and retaining all the earthly goodness found in the coffee fruit. Cascara can then be used to make a variety of products limited only by one's imagination.

Hungarian brand MONYO Craft Brewing Co used it to create cascara cola, which has about twice the caffeine content of mainstream cola products, naturally. It contains less sugar but more natural cherry and fig-date flavors. We’ve heard that cascara has also been already used in barrel-aged beer, spirits, and as a digestion-aiding dietary supplement.


Share with us some examples of upcycling and downcycling – we're really curious about your ideas! An upcoming article will delve into this topic, and we just can't resist writing another one ourselves 😜:


  • Downcycling: Valuable spent grain, a byproduct of brewing considered a superfood, is repurposed as animal feed.

  • Upcycling: We turn this spent grain into Secontaste Brewer's Granola, not only delicious but also crunchy and incredibly healthy, packed with fiber and vitamins.

Now that we've clarified that, let's mention another aspect of the coffee supply chain. Thanks to upcycling, we not only contribute to waste reduction and environmental conservation but also create additional sources of income, supporting those working on the plantations and improving their living conditions. This is a pressing issue because the global price of coffee is being kept at a level where the producer has no say.


Who are the people working on the coffee plantations?

The coffee supply chain is a vast global network encompassing processes such as roasting, packaging, distribution, and retail, but it all begins on the plantation. Both large and small plantations face environmental and social pressures. Climate change makes agriculture more challenging, putting many plantations and the livelihoods of those working there at risk. Workers on coffee plantations often deal with challenging working conditions, low pay, safety risks, and even coercion. While these problems have persisted for centuries, some plantation owners, roasters, social enterprises, and associations are trying out potential solutions.


For example, some small farms, like Kona Earth in Hawaii, work with an agent to connect with pickers. The farm employs independent workers who can freely choose where they work.


worker on the coffee plantation picking coffee cherries in his basket

In Colombia, the coffee roaster Amor Perfecto has developed a partnership to address labor shortages by creating a program that focuses on the organization, training, and integration of migrant workers into micro-businesses. As a roaster, it pays prices for green beans that are on average 50% higher than what the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) pays.

Several social enterprises work to support plantation workers. The Coffee Trust focuses its efforts in the Ixil region of Guatemala, which is grappling with a labor shortage. This increases labor costs and hampers production. The organization supports educational initiatives in the Ixil region, participating in programs that help farmers diversify their income. With their Women's Savings and Microcredit program, they assist women in starting or developing small businesses.


We Love Cascara!

From the above, it's clear how much importance we attach to the utilization of coffee byproducts. So, we took action! On September 13, 2023, we hosted a sold-out Circular Coffee Tasting event where, unusually, attendees got to explore the products of various stages of coffee production rather than different coffees. Our partners in this venture were a group of pioneering Hungarian brands – Bányai Specialty Coffee Concept, MONYO Brewing, and Mad Dog Coffee. The teams behind these innovative delights shared insights into their roles and aspirations for creating a more sustainable coffee supply chain by promoting conscious coffee production and consumption.


a girl is hloding a Circular Coffee Tasting Box in the middle of a shop

During the event, we conceptualized our joint product, the Circular Coffee Tasting Box. It's not just for coffee enthusiasts but for anyone who wants a glimpse into the world of value-conscious thinking and sustainable gastronomy.

The box contains ingredients for crafting warm or cold beverages (60g 100% arabica whole coffee beans, 40g 100% arabica cascara), a refreshing new wave craft soda (330ml cascara cola), and a delightful crunch (75g Mocha Brewer's Granola). The hidden gem, Bányai Cascara, hails from the Lourdes Valley in Costa Rica and this single estate arabica variety is sun-dried. Bányai coffees are recognized among the top 50 coffees from Costa Rica by the official international "Cup of Excellence" quality assessment system in the coffee industry.


Cascara recipes
someone is pouring beautiful pink cascara cold brew in a glass on a table

Warm up your body and soul with cascara tea, featuring its velvety, date-like flavor, balanced with a slightly tangy, fruity character. Its caffeine content (similar to green tea in this regard) refreshes your spirit 👻


Hot steeping: 15g cascara + 300 ml boiling water, steep for 10-15 minutes, then strain and enjoy.


Cold steeping: 50g cascara + 1 liter boiling water, let it cool, steep in the refrigerator overnight (12-24 hours), strain, and serve chilled.


As we mentioned, the possibilities for cascara (and generally upcycled) recipes are limited only by our imagination. We demonstrated this last year at Planet Budapest 2023, where we held an interactive workshop on sustainability and culinary innovation. It was an opportunity for attendees to join a movement that transforms the way how they think about food. The focus was on designing excellent upcycled recipes, and it was uplifting to see the creativity! We prepared one of our favorites, tiramisu with cascara syrup, later with the team, but this muffin was equally delightful!


Cascara muffin - Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour (or ground Brewer’s Granola 😉)

  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup oats (or guess what, Brewer’s Granola)

  • ½ cup cascara

  • 3 eggs

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • ½ cup (vegetable) milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


How to make it?

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, grease 12 muffin cups, or line them with paper liners.

  2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.

  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil, and vanilla.

  4. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture, stirring just until combined.

  5. Let the batter rest for about ten minutes for the cascara to absorb moisture. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, performing the toothpick test.

  6. Enjoy!


If you're inspired to try coffee byproducts, head to the webshop and share with us what you've created! 😊

Comments


bottom of page