Coffee Tales


We all woke up late today so I didn’t have enough time to make the coffee decoction in the percolator, so I used the French Press. Then I started thinking about my coffee drinking habit over the years. I grew up drinking tea and even now, tea is what I love more than coffee…. all thanks to our neighbour in Dehu Road, Varandani aunty. My mother was scared to give me a bath or feed me when I was a baby and aunty would pick me up as soon as dad would leave for work and I stayed with her right through the day. She bathed and fed me and also got me drinking tea :):).

My earliest memories of coffee is from Tirunelveli and my maternal grandmother squeezing out the decoction using the “coffee rettu”. The “coffee rettu” A thick cheese cloth was put into a vessel, coffee powder put on top of it and piping hot water was poured over it. The coffee was allowed to brew for a few minutes and then the cloth was squeezed to get pure decoction. The aroma would permeate the entire house. Everyone would queue up for the first coffee of the day because the decoction would get thinner as the day went by !

I never liked coffee then. I was hugely fond of “Nescafe”, the instant coffee till I got married. My mother-in-law drank only coffee and when I got married she told me that Krishnan doesn’t like tea (even though he worked for Lipton tea) and I should learn to make coffee. I learnt how to make the coffee decoction and would make the filter coffee sometimes. I slowly got Krishnan shifted to tea in the morning and evening, rather than making coffee. When we shifted to Delhi, everyone here wanted filter coffee and that’s when I started making the traditional south Indian filter coffee…. and got hooked. I cannot drink any instant coffee at all, just like I cannot drink “tea bag” tea.

Slowly by trial and error I have come up with my own recipe for the perfect cup of coffee – fresh decoction and fresh milk. I don’t like coffee made with milk that has been boiled once. The coffee powder that I use is ground “Robusta” coffee beans and some chicory in the 90:10 mix. I discovered the Espresso roast in Germany in Sept 2019. I plan to get rid of the chicory and try Arabica and Robusta mix, with the Espresso roast (darker roasting) going forward.

In the following picture I have captured the different generations of coffee filters at home. From the left, the first one is my maternal grandmother’s coffee filter that was given to Amma when she got married. The next one is what Appa and Sampath Chitappa used when they were bachelors in Bangalore. The third from the left is the percolator that I have started using for the past year plus and the last one in the French Press. The French Press was bought many years back from a cafe in Munirka. I never used it till recently. I discovered it while de-cluttering and as I have started giving away things that I don’t use I started using it ! The decoction in the French Press is a little lighter than what you get using the Percolator or the traditional filter but quite flavorful. Also, the French Press is quicker and that’s why I used it in the morning today. I did use the electric coffee filter for many years, but I like the drama of the percolator more, so have switched.

Dad had bought a coffee grinder in Shillong and its still there in Hyderabad. Don’t think any of us has the patience to hand grind the coffee beans though. Do share your coffee tales too …

This post is dedicated to the youngest coffee connoisseur known to me – Aaliyah. 

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