So, my first test. Was I right to recommend you buy something I hadn't tried? Well, yeah, because it was as much a lesson in what coffee really is as anything else. So, did tasting Cascara challenge my thoughts on coffee, and what coffee was? Or was it simply a coffee novelty, in the same vein as Kopi Luwak?
To answer this I'm going to break this post down into three parts; my first tasting, Ru's first tasting, and Ace's first tasting.
So, my first tasting. On opening the bag I was greeted with the most floral, woody, winey, blackcurrent aromas I have ever experienced in a coffee. Intregued I measured out eight grams and threw it into a french press. This is where my problems with the Cascara began. It smells horrible when it's brewing. Every person I have offered a cup has agreed, the wet Cascara is repulsive. Four minutes later, I plunged the cherries to the bottom of the french press and poured. The aroma is much the same as the dry cherries, but with much more blackcurrent. In the cup it even tastes like a very weak, hot Ribena. There were also floral notes, a definate peat flavour, and some chocolate towards the end. Having said this, I had already been put off, and didn't enjoy the coffee at all.
Then yesterday I took my one cup Bodum and the Cascara into work, and gave tasters to different people. The first was my boss, Ru. He described it as like hot Ribena, and while not hating it, wasn't taken by it.
Now for Ace (Chris Walton, my co-worker). Well, Ace really liked it. And where Ru and I had seen mostly eye to eye on flavour and aroma, Ace came up with some fantastic new flavours and aromas we'd missed. Firstly, the dry cherries. There's a definate raisen smell, which I had missed. In the cup he described it as a fruit tea, likening it's floral and fruity tastes to those of herbal teas.
So is Cascara really a coffee drink that you could serve day-to-day, or is it a novelty? Well, I'd start by saying it's an aquired taste. It took me three goes to properly enjoy it and even now I find it a little earthy to enjoy a large mug full. But it did challenge my belief as to what coffee is. Cascara is a fruit tea in all but name. It's dried fruit which is steeped in hot water for four minutes. But at the same time it's obviously a coffee, because it comes from a coffee plant. I promise you, if you get the chance to try this drink you will never look at coffee in the same way.
There is some bad news though. Square Mile have sold out, as of yesterday (I think). If you know anyone who does have some, or you can find any lying about, grab a taste. If you're near Newcastle I have two bags, though I'm giving one to Ace for Christmas lol. just give me a bell and let me know if you're dropping by and I'll bring it to work with me.
Anyway, Christmas Wish List tomorrow, if I'm not too drunk to type. So, till then, best wishes :)