Cascara, the dried pulp of the coffee cherry, is a great example of how a by-product of the coffee processing can be turned into a valuable and tasteful new product.
In the wet coffee processing, the pulp is removed from the freshly harvested cherry. The parchment coffee (note: the 2 coffee beans of a cherry are surrounded by a parchment layer) is sent to fermentation tanks; the pulp is separately collected and either used directly, or indirectly after processing with vermiculture, by fermentation or composting (and occasionally by adding minerals) as fertilizer for the coffee trees - or it simply decays in often large piles.
In the dry or natural processing, the full coffee cherry is dried on patios, mats or on tables, so called African beds, until the 2 coffee beans inside the cherry have reached the required moister content of 11.5 – 12.5% (note: a higher moisture content makes the beans prone to spoilage). The dried outer layers of the 2 beans, consisting of the dried skin, pulp, mucilage and parchment of the cherry, now called husk or Cascara, are removed, and either used as fertilizer – or not.
Although not new in producing countries like Ethiopia, Yemen, Peru, Bolivia etc., but Cascara from both processing's has become increasingly popular in the recent years. It is a great tasting refresher, be it cold over ice or hot. Its a wonderful, naturally sweet fruit tea, high in antioxidants, and even more important, an additional source of income for the coffee producers!