Coffee Date is a new column that features discussions of beverages stemming from leaves and beans. Whether you brew your own or need a hip barista pouring it in front of you, we’ve got you covered for brands to try at home, coffee shops with some personality, and what you should try or avoid from your regular coffee chains.
For our inaugural column, it seems fitting to write about the latest from our coffee overlords, Starbucks. Living in a suburban town, I drink a lot of Starbucks. It’s the McDonalds of coffee, except I would bring a date to Starbucks. The only difference between the two is that I’m willing to try the new drinks at Starbucks, where I normally stay within what I know at the Golden Arches, and some of The Bucks’s latest goodies have fallen in my favor.
Last night was the first time I’d been in Starbucks during 2017, and I couldn’t help but notice the Butterscotch latte. It was nice, but the Green Mermaid gave top billing to something called the Cascara Latte. “Cascara” isn’t the most inviting word, and I had no idea what it meant. Armed with the task of listening to AFI’s The Blood Album, the Cascara latte is a surprisingly subtle drink.
Doing a bit of research, Cascara is actually a tea-like drink made from the skin of coffee beans. Often referred to as “coffee cherry tea,” it’s made from a part that’s usually thrown away from coffee beans. It’s slowly gaining popularity, and Starbucks seems to have jumped on the trend just as it’s on an upward tick.
Like so many Starbucks beverages, the first few sips are scorching hot, too much so to get a taste more than burnt, which is also the note you get on the nose, but the drink sweetens as it goes down. The flavor of the coffee is very light and a little smoky, like a freshly extinguished tea candle. It also seems that the drink has some of the cherry coffee tea leaves rested on the top, which provide a suiting texture atop the foam. Cascara is easily sweeter than a latte, but not obnoxiously so like a vanilla or pumpkin spice latte. The sweetness is actually very pleasant compared to a regular old latte. This isn’t the type of drink that Starbucks’ younger Frappuccino demographic will be craving, but it can be something refreshing to brighten a morning commute for those with softer taste buds.
Perhaps, the Cascara Latte belongs in the same category as cappuccinos or espressos. It isn’t the best choice to have with breakfast or on the way to work, but it’s calm and light enough to have after dinner. Not something to return to regularly, but it’s there when it needs to be.
James Crowley is on Twitter.
 This may be influenced by my decision to switch my music from AFI to Japandroids.