Imagining a world without coffee seems dreadful as there would perhaps be nothing to look forward to first thing in the morning nor anything to cheer and freshen up after a long tiring day at work. Well, why think of the unthinkable when there’s so much to explore in that one cup of joy!
What gets one thinking though, is how such an unassuming little bean can emanate so much aroma that it can perk up a dull day and a sleepy head out of ennui. Having visited lush green coffee plantations and curing units in Chikkamagaluru and Kodagu over the years, I find it amazing that the humble coffee bean, with no smell whatsoever, can get so aromatic and flavourful after roasting.
In these coffee towns, quite often, one can get to drink pure coffee with no chicory added. And that coffee is of a different league. The most popular blend is 80 per cent coffee and 20 per cent chicory. However, it all boils down to individual taste and 70-30 and 90-10 blends are also sought by some.
In South India, one can never be far away from filter coffee. This speciality is much loved by coffee lovers and what is particularly interesting is that hotels often use a different blend of coffee. That is the reason we cannot really get the hotel coffee taste at home even if we use the traditional coffee filter.
Now, of course, tastes have changed and the lattes and cappuccinos have come in. But one still can’t forget the traditional South Indian way of sipping coffee from a steel or brass tumbler and cup (called davrah). Or in some hotels the white porcelain cup and saucer.
The other favourite of a lot of people is Kumbakonam degree coffee in Tamil Nadu. The speciality of this coffee is supposed to be the pure cow’s milk that is used in its preparation. The process of mixing it is an acrobatic stunt in itself as the coffee is tossed high from one tumbler but lands neatly into another held below. Not one drop gets spilt.
Speaking of great-tasting coffee, there are a lot of people who believe that coffee is best enjoyed without milk or sugar, yours truly included. The real taste and kick of the beverage lie in black coffee. And that too not very thick and strong, but a light, watery mixture.
Irrespective of whether you prefer it with milk or have it black, the nature of the blend, the traditional way or in a mug, the fact of the matter is we can’t really stay away from coffee. It’s probably second nature to most of us!
(The author takes refuge in food after a tiring day with cars and gadgets.)