So fast-forward a few years. The research team at the University of Costa Rica discovered the health benefits of coffee cherry, containing 50% more antioxidant than cranberries. This would eventually lead to what is probably the first innovation in a very long tradition of producing cascara tea. They realized the need for cleanliness during the production process, as well as how dry time affects the overall shelf stability. So with the help of the folks at the Helsar Micromill, they developed a system of cherry collection, processing, and drying that allowed them to produce a food-safe product, with absolute consistency.
Producing a good tasting cascara, starts with the raw materials – the coffee itself. This isn’t dissimilar to the aim for a good cup of coffee. Only peak-ripened cherries are selected, and in this case, picked from the three Certified Organic Helsar farms surrounding the mill. Baskets used by pickers are cleaned for each day’s use, as are the bags used to carry the cherry to the mill. Before the cherry is pulped from the seed, they’re soaked in filtered water, a first stage of cleaning. Then, the cherry is run through a machine used to both separate out any over and under ripe coffee that was missed, as well as perform a three-stage hydro-wash to remove any dirt that remains post-soaking. At this point the cleaned cherry is pulped using a pulping machine solely dedicated to this project. Next, they move it to a steaming chamber in order to kill any mycotoxins that could potentially lead to molding. And finally, the cherry is spread out on racks and put into a large dehydrator where nearly 100% of the water is removed.