If the thought of mixing coffee with fruit juices makes you shiver, think again. Not only coffee in itself is originally a cherry, thus basically a fruit like strawberries or mangoes, but the cherry is usually ignored and wasted, as farmers use only the internal beans to make coffee. The beans are where the most caffeine is, and the cherry outside is only lightly used to ferment the coffee and donate to it additional flavors. Then it is discarded, generating waste. As with many other parts of the coffee processing, the cherries are a byproduct that is not currently much used, if at all, by the coffee industry.
The people behind Husky, a West Palm Beach, Florida-based company, must have thought that all this waste was not beneficial for the environment and could have been used better. And indeed it can.
Thus they made a sort of tea brewed from the coffee cherries, mixed it with real fruit juice, and added a bit of sparkling water to make it all tastier. Coming in four flavors depending on the fruit juice used, lemon, orange, peach and grapefruit, the new upcycled beverage is already available in selected locations across the USA, or simply online on the company’s web shop.
About Husky and the mission behind it
The company was founded by Crawford Hawkins, a hedge fund manager that decided that his old life wasn’t for him and left to live in a coffee farm in Colombia. There he discovered the blatant inequities of the coffee industry and that it left a tremendous amount of material to waste every year.
In 2019 he returned to the USA and started to address both issues. He started working on a tipping platform where coffee drinkers could tip coffee farmers anywhere around the globe. Then the pandemic happened, and it froze the project.
Photo by Rachel Clark on Unsplash
The second issue, the waste of plenty of coffee byproducts, was next on Hawkins’ plans. He started experimenting with soda water and about 200 pounds of organic coffee husks to create what is today Husky.
These husks of what was the coffee cherries are locally known in South America as cascara and are typically discarded after the harvesting or the coffee processing. Most commonly washed away to end up in local rivers. While this doesn’t directly generate any pollution, as the husks are completely natural and easily compostable, they still possess nutrients and flavors that are wasted with the water that is used to wash the coffee beans. These light husks are the external veil that protects the internal coffee beans. When unripe they’re green, then slowly maturing to yellow, orange, red and even pink colors.
Hawkins thought of reusing these husks both to avoid any waste and to provide an additional path of income for the always living on the border of poverty coffee farmers. A cold-brewed tea is made from the husks, which extracts all the flavors but barely any bitterness. A moderately intense tea-like beverage is thus made of the husks, to which the fruit juices and sparkling water are later added to make what Husky in the end is.
All the husks that end up making Husky are organic, carefully selected across South American coffee farms. 2% of all the revenues generated from the sale of the sparkling coffee juice beverage are donated back to the farmers, to sustain their living and improve their production. Apparently then it is a win-win situation for the environment and the farmers, but what about you, the consumers?
Husky: how is it?
While there are no scientifically approved researches supporting these claims, Hawkins is sure that the coffee husks are excellent for your health. They indeed do contain antioxidants, plant polyphenols (anti-inflammatory and reputed to be able to fight against some cancers), and stimulate the production of BDNF in the brain. These are proteins that are connected with improving memory, mood and preventing diseases like Alzheimer, Schizophrenia and general aging of the brain. Yet whether Husky itself is capable of providing these benefits is questionable.
Of course, take all this with more than a grain of salt. But admittedly, no harmful effects are known either, so drinking this tea-like brew of coffee husks at least shouldn’t do any harm.
As per taste, the coffee husks donate some caffeine and a tea-like, quite acidic qualities to Husky. The fruit juices enhance the acidity and add lots of sweetness. The sparkling water makes it all very drinkable, gently effervescent, making the fruity palate emerge. It is definitely more of a sparkling fruit juice than a coffee beverage, even if it is sold and marketed as a RTD, ready-to-drink canned cocktails with coffee origins. Don’t expect a coffee with fruit juices in it: the coffee cherries have barely any similarity in taste with the dried and roasted beans that we brew for our daily cups. The marriage of these coffee husks with fruit juices is much more natural than forced than it may seem.
Husky is with no added sugars, cold brewed and all natural. Just do consider it is still a caffeinated beverage, albeit lightly, and thus should be consumed in moderate quantities if you have health issues connected with caffeine. The coffee origins of Husky show here.
The three out of planned four flavors in which Husky is sold at the moment are lemon, orange, and grapefruit. They craft each of them in a way that doesn’t cover the coffee’s tannic bitterness that can be gleaned from the husks already. The choice of fruits shows this: none is very sweet, all are very high in acidity and tanginess. No news on when and if the last flavor, peach, will be available.
A bright, colorful package completes the package of the coffee-based beverage, highlighting its connections with fruit and tropical origins.
If you’re intrigued to try Husky, a 6 pack of 12 oz. cans retails at around $12. And if you need ideas on how to spice it up, a few cocktail recipes are present on the company’s website, apparently the ones that best enhance the qualities of Husky.
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