Davis Street Espresso is serving a new drink you may not have encountered before. In Ethiopia, Yemen, Bolivia and other parts of the coffee-growing world, you might find a refreshing beverage made not with the coffee bean, but the dried coffee cherry or berry surrounding the bean. It’s called many things in many languages, but the English-speaking world has settled on cascara, the Spanish word for husk or skin.
“Historically, … they’re drinking that tea, not [just] coffee,” says Jessica Beeman of Davis Street Espresso. “So it’s not a new concept. But the fizz is a new concept, in terms of turning it into a soda.” At Davis Street Espresso, they’re taking the husk and turning it into a wonderful elixir.
It’s the personal passion project of Caleb Ortiz, their resident cold-brew guy, who had them reach out to the farmers with which they have direct-trade relationships in South America and ask them to also send not just the green, unroasted beans, but also the cascara, the dried cherry pods that are usually composted. Ortiz devised a recipe: he brews the husks, letting them soak for 18 hours, adds sugar, pasteurizes the brew, and charges it with CO2—hence the cascara “fizz.”
“What we have now is El Salvador,” says Beeman. “I think we’ll get Bolivian.”
The bubbles are gentle; the fizz tastes to me like rooibos meets tamarind—something woody with a faint, pleasant fruitiness. You can get the fizz straight-up in a mason jar or as a brewed tea, its caffeine content lower than brewed coffee and closer to black tea.
Summer specials include a cascara float that pairs the cascara fizz with sweet-cream ice cream from neighbor Joy Macarons, or the Redbone that marries the sparkles with dollops of house-made strawberry jam and basil lemonade, a drink with a little depth and sweetness.
Bottles of the cascara fizz are newly available at the coffee shop and at a roster of venues selling it in bottles, on tap, or both, including Cox Farms Market, Local Press + Brew, Encanto Pops, Mudsmith, the 6th Floor Museum, and Nerdvana in Frisco.
Davis Street’s move places us on par with a cascara-using movement in third-wave coffee shops in places like Seattle, California, and New York. It also expands your understanding of a plant whose wonders we seek daily but know so little about.