Coffee, cascara and tennis…

Lavazza has been the exclusive coffee partner of the US Open since 2015. The Turin, Italy-based company, which renewed its sponsorship of the US Open through 2025, is also the official coffee of the other three tennis Grand Slams: the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. On Labor Day (4 September,) in its suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium (within the Billie Jean King Tennis Center) during the US Open, Lavazza held a Cascara Master Class for media, clients and students from Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, with which it has a partnership. 

Coffee cherries are ‘superfruits’ that contain polyphenols, hydrocinnamic acids (sweet, balsamic and cinnamon tasting compounds), potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C. Cascara is a by-product of coffee beans, obtained from the cherry after the coffee bean is removed. To consume cascara, it must first be dried fully and carefully. Cascara is subject to the same concerns about mold and toxins that coffee beans are, but unlike coffee, cascara is typically just dried, not roasted at high heat. Cascara has about a quarter of the caffeine levels compared to regular coffee brews. It is currently unregulated in the United States and several European countries but is banned in the UK. 

Against the backdrop of several prominent players’ tennis matches, Elena Calegari, innovation & development manager and Andrea Mazza, food & beverage senior expert, explained why Lavazza is developing cascara into beverages and presented attendees with several cascara drinks. In addition to the potential health benefits for consumers, they noted that selling cascara would offer coffee producers another revenue stream and enhance the coffee supply chain. 

During the presentation, attendees were able to sample four different cascara-based beverages: coffee nectar (plain cascara), peach coffee nectar (flavoured cascara) – both of which tasted similar to iced tea – a granita, and my personal favourite, a white cascara cocktail, which tasted similar to a White Russian, featuring cascara, vodka, Frangelico and cream. 

Lavazza’s plan for cascara beverage is still in the planning and testing stage but Calegari and Mazza said they will be hosting more cascara master classes and demonstrations at different events around the world. 

Several coffee brands have previously tested cascara beverages in their coffee shops, but most were limited-edition drinks. It will be interesting to see how Lavazza realizes its plans for cascara, what a cascara beverage rollout would look like, and if other coffee brands will follow suit. If cascara becomes a ‘legitimate’ beverage rather than just a limited-edition drink or fad, it could positively impact coffee producers’ livelihoods thereby furthering efforts towards a circular economy. 

Related content

Leave a reply

Tea & Coffee Trade Journal