I am not exactly a coffee connoisseur, however over the years the magic of the drink never ceases to titillate my palate.
CCD is not only an ideal setting for a clandestine rendezvous but also the enchanting aroma of coffee wafting gently through the air, tickles your senses, giving you an instant craving for a mugga (coffee version of cuppa).
Today, for coffee drinkers the perception of coffee is more of an experience like wine. Coffee drinkers these days are concerned with every little aspect of their mugga, starting with where the beans come from, how they’re grown, the subtle flavor notes, roasting and brewing techniques, right down to drinking etiquette. In Bangalore I came across an old timer in a typical Indian Coffee House, swirl his coffee around in his mug, without spilling a drop, take a sniff and slowly sip the steaming brew with an ecstatic expression on his time- worn countenance.
On the other hand many thanks to the British who hooked us on to the magic elixir they called tea. (we call it Chai in our lingo) and literally Tea is so widely consumed in India that on every nook and corner, be it urban or rural, you will find tea shops with the desi brewers exhibiting their USP by twirling their long handle spoons, skimming the surface of the liquid boiling in large utensils, throwing it up in the air and dropping it with accuracy back in the utensil, while throughout the time the loud decibels of the gas stove adding to the din of the periodic clanging of the spoon against the steel or aluminum utensil, sometimes accompanied by the musical ability of the master chef while he croons his favorite singer’s popular songs, most of the time surrounded by a patient crowd of onlookers(usually with a gaping mouth and wide eyes of awe) careful not to distract or break the sanctity of the moment lest the flavor of the concoction not come out as desired.
The uniqueness of the entire process is that each ‘Chai Walla’ (any reference to anyone is purely unintentional) has his own one of its kind flavor and his customers can travel vast distances for a cuppa.
However much the Coffee pub chain (consisting of Cafe Coffee Day, Barista, Starbucks etc) have tried, they have found it impossible to break the monopoly of Tea in India. Not that coffee drinkers are less privileged in any way. Coffee drinking is considered an elite practice in India and is indulged in predominantly by the upper middle class and above. Entering a pub for a cappuccino or cold coffee can empty your coffers by at least 300/- bucks and you have to elegantly sip your coffee without a sound.
Relocate to a roadside chai shop and you can slurp your cuppa anyway you want @ Rs10/- and always have a repeat without thinking too much!
Our very own Indian Coffee House chain runs extensively in central and northern India, run by Keralites from south India, has its own traditional south Indian coffee. Commonly heard is one filter kaapi Anna!
The aroma in these settings is a combo of filter coffee, sambar, fermented rice and Chicken Do Piyaza! Not at all appealing for sensitive smelling senses.
Both a Mugga and a Cuppa have their own position and status in our history of evolution and should be cherished.