Once considered as a waste from coffee production, the skin from coffee cherries is given a new life by the agricultural office of La Trinidad, Benguet by developing it into a refreshing tea.
The newest byproduct introduced by the Municipal Agriculture Office is the coffee cascara tea, which makes use of dried Arabica coffee cherry or pulp into a tea.
Cascara is the Spanish word for the peel or skin of a fruit; in this case, the skin of the coffee cherry is processed instead of originally ending up in a compost. Cascara tea is widely served and marketed around the world along with regular coffee beans.
Municipal Agriculturist Felicitas Ticbaen said her office has researched about the process of making the tea, wherein only the cherries with the same ripeness are chosen that will undergo the process of dehydration and then packing.
The cherries would go through a specialized dehydrator to remove the moisture content of the cherries. The dehydrator was acquired from South Korea, which is also being used to dehydrate other fruits such as strawberry, which they are developing for possible marketing.
“Because it’s newly-launched, we will roll it out and we are willing to train those who are interested because there’s a process that needs to be done before serving it,” Ticbaen said.
She said the importance of good manufacturing practices would be taught to interested farmers or entrepreneurs.
“From post-harvest, a farmer dries it making sure it should not be exposed to any contaminants,” Ticbaen said.
The tea, which can be served hot or cold, debuted during the La Trinidad Coffee Week, on Dec. 7 to 11, which centered on the development of coffee production through educating those who make up the growing coffee industry of the town – the coffee growers and entrepreneurs.
Guests tasted the cascara tea, which was served like regular tea; the cascara is steeped in hot water using the French press and served hot.
Guests and participants during the opening day of the coffee week also tasted the cold cascara tea served on a tall tea tower dispenser.
Cascara tea has a sweet fruity taste similar to hibiscus tea, which would come as a surprise for those who are not aware that they are drinking coffee’s cherry.
Ticbaen said the cascara tea, which contains around 25 percent caffeine, will still undergo improvement, as those behind its production will soon submit product samples to the Department of Science and Technology for testing of its nutritional contents.
“We just had a market taste for you and if it is OK for commercial production, we will be marketing it for everyone,” she said.
The cascara tea would be an addition to the growing byproducts made from coffee in the town. Other byproducts featured during the event include coffee cider, coffee wine, and coffee cake tokens baked by local bakers using local Arabica coffee.
Ticbaen said her office has been pushing for the development of byproducts from coffee aside from the conventional Arabica coffee drinks. This is to give added livelihood for farmers and entrepreneurs to make use of coffee since harvesting is done only twice or thrice a year.
Proper storage of equipment to keep away molds would also have to be considered. Pulping machines are also a need for the various coffee growers since there are only few machines given to the six coffee growers association in the town led by its umbrella group, the La Trinidad Arabica Coffee Producers’ Association.
There are 744 Arabica coffee growers in the13 barangays of La Trinidad based on the profile of the Municipal Agriculture Office covering a total of 43 hectares of land in the capital town.
Ticbaen said the numbers have grown through the years with La Trinidad winning in recent nationwide coffee cupping competitions gaining a grade of 80 percent, which means the town’s coffee is considered a specialty coffee – a standard that only five percent of coffees worldwide meet.
This was the basis for the creation of La Trinidad Coffee Festival celebrated every December to promote local Arabica coffee and uplift the lives of coffee growers and entrepreneurs. – Ofelia C. Empian