Coffee Cultures

I realize each place has its own coffee culture. And coffee culture varies remarkably across short geographical distances.

America likes it large and watery. Even our office coffee machine here describes “americano” as “espresso with hot water”.  And the less I say about the “traditional brewed American coffee” the better. Few people make coffee worse than these guys.

Oh and they like it large. The smallest size on the Starbucks menu is “tall”, though there is a “short” option available if you ask for it. I don’t know how often Americans like their coffee.

Turks like it really thick and strong, and in small quantities. It seems like they don’t like to filter their coffee. But whattan awesome coffee it is! Full in flavour, and the thickness means the taste lingers for a really long time.

Probably the best coffee I’ve had on this trip was at an Ethiopian restaurant (I’m thinking of going back there tonight) and it is not surprising since the coffee plant was first tamed there. Again it is strong and hot, and I was given the option of having it with a little milk and sugar. It is filtered I think, for there was little residue in the cup after I’d emptied it.

Madras likes it strong, with sugar and rich creamy milk (hence the “degree”). And Madras likes it large. I’m told most Madrasis have coffee just twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. The quality of milk, though, means that the Madrasi coffee looks light, though it’s quite strong.

I don’t remember too much about coffee in London, but I do remember that Costa’s there served fairly awesome coffee. Again it was all espresso based, which probably implied the quality. Though I do remember cribbing (maybe on this blog) about it. I remember drinking tea in my office there because I found the coffee not strong enough.

Bangalore likes it hot, strong, small and frequent. If I go to any of my father’s relatives’ houses, I usually have at least three coffees before I leave. All small shots. With a little milk and sugar.

At home, nowadays, I’ve been using a percolator I’d bought in Cafe Coffee Day to make my coffee (talking in singular since the wife thinks I make fairly horrible coffee). The problem with the thing though is that it keeps toppling over and I’ve to stand there holding it on the stove while the coffee brews. Any pointers as to where I can get better and more stable percolators will be appreciated.

I don’t know why but today as I was returning to my desk with half a glass of espresso and steamed milk (I’ve figurd out how to structure coffee in this office machine) I was thinking of Baba Budan. About how his efforts have made it possible for us in South India to enjoy this wonderful drink.

Jai Dattatreya.

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