Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The weeks menu and an explanation about cascara from lead barista James

“What is cascara?” It is a question either myself or one of the other staff at Kaffeine get asked nearly every day. It is probably the question I would have asked if I had not landed the job as a barista on one of my first visits to this little café in London. Cascara is the husk, flesh or ‘meat’ of the coffee cherry and can be used in a variety of ways. Typically it is steeped with hot water for a few minutes to yield a deep red tea loaded with flavour and, of course, a fair amount of caffeine. So what does this all mean and why am I telling you all this? There have been a few changes at Kaffeine lately and when Peter first approached me with the idea of writing an entry for Kaffeine’s blog about cascara and what we are doing with it I was a little shocked at first and then the ideas started accumulating as I took another sip of my fifth or sixth coffee for the day.

When I first came to Kaffeine over 12 months ago I loved the fact that we delivered water with all of our espressos and macchiato drinks. For me it was a nice touch and something I hadn’t seen in many other cafes at the time. This was great until I had a conversation with a customer one busy afternoon about his experience at a café in America, which changed everything. Espresso was being matched and paired with anything from honey’s through to different types of juice to complement and highlight characteristics found in the coffee itself. For me I loved the idea of offering something to enhance someone’s coffee experience and once I mentioned it to our manager, Amy, she really gave me the confidence to try a few different things.

Espresso, by nature, is a really heavy and over the top style of coffee and it was important to me to serve it alongside something light, refreshing and, as good as a glass of water is, something a little more complementary than lemon and mint. The cascara cold brew we are currently serving alongside our Red Brick Espresso from Square Mile, in my opinion, really does leave your palette feeling refreshed and the hint of bergamot, supplied by 1g of high quality loose leaf tea, accompanies the finish of the Red Brick Espresso as well. We plan to change the recipe of the cold brew as Square Mile change the blend for Red Brick Espresso so this means there will always be something new, interesting and a little bit different sitting adjacent to your espresso or macchiato in the future.

I am very fortunate to work with people who are not only talented, but also incredibly passionate about what they do. Our chef, the one responsible for the wonderful combinations of flavours that look unusual on paper but somehow work, is also responsible for probably one of the tastiest cascara drinks you will ever try. We had this idea several months ago in the depths of winter about how nice it would be to offer an iced drink for the summer that didn’t have any coffee in it. I couldn’t fathom the idea of a cold drink in a café without caffeine so we talked for a bit over a few of our lunch breaks and decided to try something with cascara. We tried the same recipe with two different types from El Salvador. One was intensely sweet and the other was more fruity and smoky, a more typical cascara flavour, and more to our liking too.

The cascara we are using at the moment comes from an award winning farm in El Salvador, La Ilusion, and is supplied by Has Bean. The final results of our experiments are quite something. Again it was important to me that the flavour of the cascara be the highlight of this drink and the delicate floral notes and refreshing taste of dried fruit is at the core of this summer special. The cascara is reduced with watermelon, apple, mint, cardamom and chillies before being poured over lots of ice and finished with sparkling water. The sparkling cascara is quite caffeinated, so don’t feel like we are trying to rob you of your fix, and totally refreshing in the warmer weather.

So why do I keep on going on about this product? It is unique, interesting and damned tasty. Not only that, but the flesh of the coffee cherry is typically discarded during the coffee production process and often left to rot, so if we can find ways to use more of what the coffee producers are working so hard to deliver it can only be a good thing. So what is cascara? With a little imagination it can be whatever you want it to be.

So please enjoy this weeks menu, and if you do come in, ask us for an iced cascara. They are amazing....

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.30
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.30
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passionfruit, peach) 3.50
(add 30 p for granola or yoghurt)
Ciabatta Roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.70
Ciabatta Roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.70
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.70
Croissant with gruyere cheese and plum tomatoes 3.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with homemade preserves 1.70
Cinnamon and raisin toast 2.30
Banana Bread 2.20

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissants 1.70
Pain au chocolat 2.30
Almond croissants 2.70

Baked Treats
Sea buckthorn and flat peach sweet muffins 2.00
Brie and red pepper savoury muffins 2.00
Melilot friands 2.00
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.30
White chocolate blondies 2.30
Portuguese tarts 1.90
ANZAC cookies 1.70
Afgan biscuits 1.70


French retro baguettes 4.70
Onion Squash with saute mushrooms, spinach and brie
Pancetta with apricot, rocket and basil cheese

Foccacias with sea salt and rosemary crust 4.90
Ham, gherkin, red onion, dijon, gruyere, rocket
Smoked salmon, dill, red onion, capers, aioli, spinach

Salads 4.90/5.90
Bullrush, wild fennel, borlotti cooked in tomato, baby spinach
Black Mustard Leaf with Roasted Beef, Pear, Blues Cheese
Roast Courgette with wild wild rocket, lemon and parmesan

Tart 4.00 or 6.90 with salad
Creamy Onion and thyme tart

1 comment:

  1. Could you recommend where in London it is possible to buy cascara tea?