CASCARA has made it on to the menu at the Equium Social – the new coffee hotspot in Mayfield East that locals are enthusing about.
Cascara is Spanish for “husk” which, in this instance, refers to the sun-dried skin of the cherry fruit in which the coffee bean is housed upon its stem. These husks feel as dry and look as plain as peanut shells.
But once you steep them – like a loose-leaf tea – and then add some bubbles to the brew underneath, a refreshing cleanse comes from the delicate and sparkling amber soda that floats above it.
It’s a drink that has a lot in common with the establishment that serves it. If the Peppertown Cafe of old can be likened to the husk or the discarded skin of the past, then Equium Social is the bright-eyed rebirth emerging into a new and exciting future.
Even the flavour of the coffee beans themselves are a symbolic reminder of how much things have changed.
Underlying the choice of roast at Equium – and the decision to offer exotic beverages like cascara – is a philosophy that welcomes adventure and experimentation.
The flavours are new, but not unfamiliar. Sharp, yet sweet. Strange fruits. It’s though we have entered a whole new coffee season.
Most cafes with single-origin espresso play safe by accompanying the lighter-roasted single-origin option with a darker-roasted blend in milk-based coffees. The first option and the more-acquired taste is for short and long-black lovers. The second option, the blend, is what most of us are accustomed to in lattes and cappuccinos. Equium is having nothing of that.
Just like their big windows facing Maitland Road make us look at Mayfield a little differently, and their narrow and backless bar offers us a new perspective on their baristas, so too does this coffee encourage us to venture into unfamiliar flavours.
Newcastle roaster David Pogson has roasted the Equium beans lightly enough for their bright astringencies to burst across the palate which, for a single origin roast, is exactly what you are looking for.
Yet he has proved himself to be knowledgeable enough in sourcing his beans and skillful enough in then roasting, to produce a strong and sweet-tasting bean to make your milk-based coffee memorable.
Pogson acknowledges that the roast at Equium would never be perfect for everybody. Without sounding cliched, it was more about working towards the perfect coffee.
It echoed what owner Jacques Deloraine had said to me earlier in the morning and, like so much of what you taste and feel at Equium Social, they were words that seemed to represent a newer and more daring way to serve espresso in a cafe.
Doing away with the old and trying something new was part of a journey that Equium trusted their customers would warmly embrace. So raise your cascaras, Mayfield. Here’s to a big new season.