When a friend from Cameroon, Matti Foncha, visited Portland to share pre-harvest coffee samples from his farm, he brought a ziplock bag of dried cascara, too. Picking it up and inhaling its heady fragrance, I knew I wanted to create a cocktail to highlight the unique floral notes of the dried coffee cherries.
Cascara is technically a tisane that you steep, but unlike tea in that it doesn’t become tannic like Camellia sinensis. I’ve experimented with different steep times for this simple syrup and enjoy it at twenty minutes, forty minutes, and “oops-I-forgot” minutes. In a latte or cappuccino, it’s delicious. Next I plan to try a soda. If you experiment with it, let me know? (@mcintyrewrites) on Twitter.
The obvious but often overlooked aspect of cascara is that, just like the coffee bean the cherry houses, it has regional and varietal flavor characteristics that vary widely. For this cocktail, I used pulp-natural Cameroon cascara. Delicate and rich, the cascara imparts a honey-mead quality to the cocktail, adding cider and sweet nectarine notes that blend perfectly with the mild spiced rum. Adding fresh lemon ups the acidity to emphasize sweetness and the unexpectedly smooth mouthfeel.
Sun Streaks in the Coffeelands
1 oz. Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 oz. cascara simple syrup*
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
Shake with ice for thirty seconds, double strain into coupe or martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel if desired. Adjust proportions by tartness of lemon juice.
*Simmer one cup water, one cup light brown sugar, and one half cup cascara husks for twenty minutes, let steep for twenty minutes, and strain.
—Emily McIntyre is a regular contributor to Fresh Cup. Recipe by Emily, coffee cherry painting by Ixil Borter Torres of AdIx Coffee.