Julia Peixoto Peters of Peixoto Coffee never intended to start a coffee shop in the suburbs of Phoenix. A native of Brazil, she came to the United States thirteen years ago to study law at the University of Arizona. But she fell in love here, made some babies, and decided to stay for keeps.
Peters’ great-grandfather was a Brazilian coffee baron. When he passed, a portion of his land in Minas Gerais was inherited by her grandfather. Her father, Jose Augusto Peixoto, took a liking to the coffee-growing business. He purchased more farmland, and eventually inherited a portion of his father’s estate, forming what is now known as Fazenda Sao Jose da Boa Vista. “I’ve always known I wanted to do something with my family’s coffee. I didn’t want it to fade away with the aging of my parents. I wanted to do something with it, but didn’t quite know what,” she says.
So Julia Peters and her husband, Jeff Peters, embarked on a journey to figure out just how they’d become involved in the family business. He started roasting in their garage. They entertained the thought of selling green coffee, then decided maybe roasted was better, and ultimately decided to open a full-scale specialty coffee shop, featuring primarily coffees from the family fazenda. The couple traveled around the country tasting coffee and learning about the industry before opening their shop in February of this year.
They first tried cascara at Due South Coffee in South Carolina. Due South’s owner is also Brazilian, from the same region as Peters’ family. He served them hot-brewed cascara, and they both fell in love with the beverage. But there’s a problem with hot beverages in Arizona: when it’s 120 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the last thing anyone wants is for their insides to feel as warm as their outsides. They decided iced was best, and Peixoto Coffee now offers chilled cascara on tap. The cascara used at the cafe does not come from the family farm—yet. For now, Peixoto buys dried Catuai cherry from Los Lajones estate in Panama. They brew it hot, then chill it and store it in nitrous kegs.
But the refreshment doesn’t end there. Peters wanted to have another refreshing drink on her menu, one that would pay homage to her Brazilian heritage. She has fond memories of being on her family’s coffee farm, and smelling fresh lemongrass (cidreira, in her native Portuguese). She loved the herb’s refreshing flavor, and wanted to make a drink featuring it as a prominent ingredient. She enlisted the help of Peixoto Coffee’s manager, pastry chef Marisa Lown, to make her cidreira dreams a reality. Lown steeps dried lemongrass (grown in Egypt, but sold at a local farmers’ market) in hot water, then adds lemon juice and organic sugar to create a refreshing cidreira lemonade.
Lown inadvertently created a masterpiece, because as it turns out, iced cascara and cidreira lemonade add up to an Arnold Palmer that won’t quit. As Julia jokes, “We’re calling it Arnoldo Palmero, just to make it a bit more Brazilian-ized.”
Here’s how to experience the excitement of Arnoldo in your own kitchen, courtesy of Marisa Lown and Peixoto Coffee:
10 grams lemongrass tea
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2–3 large lemons)
24 grams cascara tea
Lemongrass Lemonade Preparation
1. Place 10 grams of dried lemongrass tea into a pint or quart mason jar. Add 12 fluid ounces (3/4 cup) of 205-degree Fahrenheit water (bring water to a boil and let sit for 1 minute before adding to tea). Stir well to ensure that all the tea leaves are saturated with water.
2. Cover jar loosely and let steep for 15–30 minutes, or until tea is spicy and aromatic. Drain tea over a strainer and discard the leaves. Set tea aside. While lemongrass tea is steeping, go ahead and steep your cascara tea and prepare a simple syrup.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water and heat until sugar is dissolved. Set simple syrup aside to cool.
4. In small mixing bowl, mix 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, reserved lemongrass tea, and simple syrup. Stir gently and set aside.
1. Place 24 grams of cascara tea into a pint or quart mason jar. Add 20 fluid ounces (1 1/4 cup) of 205-degree Fahrenheit water (bring water to a boil and let sit for 1 minute before adding to tea). Cover jar loosely and let steep for five minutes. Stir gently with a spoon, then drain tea over a strainer and discard the leaves.
2. Combine the prepared lemongrass lemonade and cascara and let chill for at least an hour, or until completely cooled.
3. Stir well, then serve over ice and enjoy!
Zaida Dedolph is a Sprudge contributor based in Phoenix, Arizona. Read more Zaida Dedolph on Sprudge.