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Teas of Hawaii: Coffee Cherries

New Brew: This coffee product thinks outside the bean.


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Is coffee cherry the new acai?

photo: courtesy hector wong


photo: David Croxford

Coffee or tea? How about both? Teas of Hawaii produces a line of tisanes—plant infusions—made from sun-dried coffee cherry, the fruit around the coffee bean. Coffee cherries are the superfruit du jour, boasting higher antioxidant levels than açai, all the nutritional benefits of coffee and little of the caffeine. But coffee cherry tea is nothing new; in Yemen, a brew of the dried husks is called quishr, in El Salvador it’s cáscara.

For Hawaiian Tisane, though, this “poor man’s coffee” gets a sophisticated update. Jess Ford, owner of Teas of Hawaii on Molokai, incorporates herbs and other ingredients to round out coffee cherries’ cranberry tone. She mixes them with aromatic jasmine blossoms and green tea, which add a “dryness to the finish,” she says. “I like to blend true tea [with coffee cherry] because of the contrast and complement.” One tisane incorporates young papaya leaves and vanilla bean for a warm, sweet note, while another combination with mamaki and ginger make for a uniquely Hawaiian cup.

To prepare the coffee cherry, Ford gathers the pulp left over from coffee processing. From a coffee harvest of 260 acres in Kualapuu on Molokai, she dries some 5,000 pounds of the pulp in the sun. This is stuff that previously, at best, was composted in the coffee fields, and at worst, tossed. Teas of Hawaii isn’t the only company to make use of this coffee-processing byproduct that just happens to have superfruit status, but, unlike some other coffee cherry products on the shelves, Hawaiian Tisane is the best way to truly taste the fruit.

 

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