Sometimes I get tired of talking about how great coffee is. Sure there’s a ton of cool stuff happening right now in specialty coffee and Science keeps finding—and confirming—healthful benefits of the world’s most popular beverage, but still, sometimes a change is in order. So today, we’re switching it up and talking about the potential benefits of coffee cherry, otherwise known as cascara. A new study has found that extracts from the fruit of the coffee cherry may increase alertness and mood.

The new study was published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience and was funded by PepsiCo (perhaps for a new take on Cherry Pepsi). In it, researchers from Northumbria University, PHMR Ltd, and Pepsi examined the effects of coffee cherry extract on 46 individuals, average age 23, in a “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study.” Per Beverage Daily, over the course of four trials, the individuals were put into one of four groups: those who took 1,100mg of cherry extract, those who took 1100mg of cherry extract plus an addition 275mg apple extract, those who took 100mg of cherry extract plus 275mg apple extract, and then a placebo group. Individuals underwent cognitive and mood evaluations before taking the extract and then again after the one, three, and six-hour mark.

advert but first coffee cookbook now available


The study found that 1,100mg of coffee cherry extract “consistently improved alertness,” with participants reporting increased vigor/activity and decreased fatigue and “overall negative mood.” The study notes that while the caffeine content in the cherry extract is incredibly low—around 22mg, about a fifth of a cup of coffee—and thus unlikely to be the cause of positive effects, it can nonetheless be ruled out without further research.

So if you to find that you sometimes need a break from coffee but still want some of the benefits, might I suggest some nice coffee cherry. It’s the coffee person’s not-coffee.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

New Rules of Coffee banner advertising an illustrated guide to the essential rules for enjoying coffee