A coffee cherry is the fruit, or berry of the coffee tree, growing in clusters along the plant’s short stems. It is the sole ingredient in coffee flour.
Description of a Coffee Cherry
A coffee cherry typically measures about 6/10-inch (1.5 cm) long and begins as a light green, unripe berry that gradually ripens to yellow and then takes on an orange/crimson color before turning dark cherry-red/reddish-black, at which time the fruit is ready to be harvested for the prized green coffee beans.
Coffee flour is made from the coffee cherry – typically considered a waste product with no market value. It’s rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants and can be used as a partial substitute for traditional flour, and contains large amounts of caffeine!
Determining When the Coffee is Ripe
The whole ripening process of the coffee cherry takes about seven to eight months, and the ripeness is determined largely by color.
A more precise method of determining optimum ripeness involves gently squeezing the fruit to see if the seed (coffee bean) will easily fall out. Typically this happens just before the fruit is completely red (monochromatic).
Some coffee plant varietals (e.g. botanical varieties) have cherry (fruits) that turn yellow rather than red when they are ripe.
Anatomy of a Coffee Cherry
Beneath the coffee cherry’s outer skin (the exocarp) is the fruity pulp (the mesocarp), and then the silverskin (endocarp), a fine, extremely thin layer of skin that surrounds and adheres tightly to the green coffee bean.
The dried coffee cherry is typically discarded or used as a fertilizer, but recently it can be found and as “Cascara” – a tea made from coffee cherries! It’s brewed similar to a tea, and is the primary ingredient in a cascara latte.