Coffee beans, the roasted seeds of the coffea cherry, are essential to the standard American morning routine. But if we only use the seeds, what happens to all of those discarded cherry husks? Enter Swillings Coffee. The Valley-based company – founded by three Thunderbird School of Global Management MBAs – works with Colombian coffee farmers to not only process the coffee at the farm level, but to roast it themselves and make good use of byproducts like the coffee cherries, thereby diversifying and concentrating the value the farming communities can create for their work.
After first releasing their roasted coffee to the public, Swillings worked to perfect the process of drying the discarded cherries into a product called cáscara, which is brewed and consumed as tea.
It’s a complex and intriguing beverage, served hot or cold: a little fruity, naturally sweet and tangy. It vaguely resembles coffee in taste and sometimes draws comparisons to jamaica, the Mexican agua fresca made from brewing dried hibiscus flowers. As the days get hotter, try cold-brewing it (about 8 grams for every 6 ounces) and adding seltzer water for a refreshing summer spritzer. Or make a concentrate and use it in place of – or in tandem with – fresh juice or tea in a cocktail.
Swillings’ cáscara is available online ($12 for 4 oz. for 12-15 brewings) and at the Uptown Farmers Market (uptownmarketaz.com) on Saturdays.
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