Meet Cascara, the Coffee Plant’s Other Drink

September 23, 2015

The coffee plant’s long-discarded “fruit” finds a new purpose flavoring drinks.

Inside the sleek, lacquered-white confines of Merchant Coffee in New Orleans, a hush has fallen over the crowded room. Spectators have gathered for the first-ever New Orleans Barista Social Club Cascara Competition, where eight of the city’s brightest baristas and bartenders have assembled to prepare drinks using the longtime black sheep of the coffee plant—cascara.

Throughout the shop, competitors spill out bags filled with everything from tea kettles to banana leaves and cotton candy grapes, rehearsing their “drink inspiration” monologues while stewing over last minute recipe edits.…