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When's a Cherry Not a Cherry?

January 31, 2011

Erin Meister recently traveled to Nicaragua so she could taste a fresh coffee cherry. Well, maybe not just to taste the cherry, but as a barista trainer and coffee culture writer, she’s presumably interested in the whole coffee story and process.

She asks the question: Ever wonder what a coffee cherry tastes like? In case you’re not sure of your answer, not to worry, as she answers it for you, saying “Of course you do”. She then naturally goes on to describe the taste for you. In its cherry state the red varieties do look like the other cherry fruit, though smaller. But there the resemblance ends.

Erin describes the layer just under the skin as sweet, sticky and pulpy. In taste, it is like watermelon, rosewater, and hibiscus all at once. Watermelon most of us know, and if you know what rosewater and hibiscus taste like, you can imagine the coffee cherry’s taste. She goes on to say the delicate flavor is fleeting and there’s not much to this layer. Under this fleshy layer is the bean, which is very hard at this stage. If you can find and taste cascara - a tea-like infusion that can be made from the dried husks - you’ll pretty much experience the same taste as the coffee cherry pulp.

So now you know the secret of the other part of the coffee cherry taste. As Erin says, most of us will not get to visit a coffee farm and taste the cherries straight off the tree. But that’s okay – the hot brewed stuff is tasty enough for me, anyway.



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