Starbucks is kicking off 2017 with a new and unusual beverage: The Cascara Latte, a latte that uses the fruit of the coffee cherry. Before you jump headfirst into the new drink, you should know about the caffeine content of the Cascara Latte, especially if — like me — you tend to be caffeine-sensitive. If you’re thinking, “Hold up. Scratch the caffeine question. What in the what is a Cascara Latte??”, I’ve got the 411 on that, too.
The Cascara Latte started out at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle. You may be surprised to realize that coffee grows on trees, and that coffee beans are found inside coffee cherries. Usually, after the beans are harvested, the fruit of the cherries is discarded or composted, but in recent years coffee aficionados have begun using the fruit — the "cascara," a Spanish word meaning "shell" or "husk" — for its own sake. The dried cascara, for example, is sometimes brewed to make a floral, caffeinated tea. Fresh Cup Magazine describes the unique flavor of cascara as “a sweet, fruity taste with notes of rose hip, hibiscus, cherry, red current, mango or even tobacco.”
For their Cascara-inspired beverage, Starbucks is starting with a combination of espresso and a cascara syrup made up of coffee cherry extract, coconut, and cane sugars. Add to that the milk of your choice, foam, and a cascara topping, and you’ve got yourself a Cascara Latte. The special latte has a lighter flavor than most espresso drinks, accompanied by a gentle sweetness and notes of maple and dark brown sugar. (Um, YUM.)
Those of you who like getting a shot of energy with your Starbucks fix will be happy to learn that the Cascara Latte is caffeinated. A Tall (12 oz.) version contains 75 mg of caffeine, the same amount that’s in a regular latte. Of course, you can always order Starbucks lattes with decaf espresso to reduce (though not completely eliminate) their caffeine content.
The Cascara Latte will be available at Starbucks locations nationwide starting Tuesday, January 10, but Starbucks Rewards members can get early access to the drink starting today. (Yes, TODAY!) A Tall (12 oz.) will cost you between $4.24 and $4.75, depending on the market.