Bites: Cascara is trending in Northern Virginia

The skin of the coffee cherry, cascara can be steeped in hot water to make a tealike drink or infused to make a syrup for a latte or a soda.

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Who knows if it’ll be the next matcha, switchel or shrub, but expect to see more of cascara.

The skin of the coffee cherry (the fruit that covers the bean, which is what gets roasted and ground to make traditional coffee), cascara can be steeped in hot water to make a tealike drink or infused to make a syrup for a latte or a soda.

In Arlington, Commonwealth Joe’s turns it into a cascara fizz. Brew LoCo, a tiny spot in Lansdowne jammed with brewing supplies, beer for sale and tables and chairs for a cafe-meets-bar, is also experimenting with the usually discarded coffee husk.

For the past year, Brew LoCo owners Cathy Frye and Mary Battaglia have been serving cascara tea on nitro. Battaglia says the bubbles enhance the flavor, which can give notes of dried fruit, raisins or even licorice.

At night, the owners pour a shot of chambord into the drink tableside, and combining cascara and hops is up next. The two are already plotting the type of hops, possibly the popular Citra, the Japanese Sorachi Ace or the white wine-like Nelson Sauvin, and hope to have the hoppy (but not alcoholic) concoction available next month. Once they start tinkering, says Frye, it’s “something that bothers us” until they get it right.

Also, if you want to try Powers Brewery’s beer before the official opening on Sunday (see top story), check out Whiffletree Farm’s third Annual Squacker with food trucks, microbrews, farm tours and live music on Saturday. And fast-casual iterations of all the world’s cuisines continue with Choolaah Indian BBQ. A Sterling location opens Friday, and there’s already an outlet in Mosaic.

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