The exhilarating aroma pierced the cocoon of sleep that wrapped me tightly. I slowly opened my eyes to see what seemed like an apparition in the semi-darkness of early morning. The rich aroma and the smoke curling upwards from a glass that the angelic apparition held in her arms, lent the scene a surreal appearance. It was my mother, waking me with a cup of hot and freshly brewed coffee.
This was how my days began for many, many years; with a cup of strongly brewed mother’s coffee.
Coffee has been an integral part of the lives of millions of people like me across the world. Coffee is more than just a beverage. It is a companion, a lover, a mother, a father, a friend, philosopher and guide for millions across the globe. Coffee is what you turn to when you are happy, when you are melancholic, when you are lonely and when you have company.
My obsession with Coffee fueled my curiosity and I embarked on a voyage of discovery. A voyage that would unveil the history of Coffee and its journey from the sandy deserts of Arabia to the hills of South India. The journey would also give me a sense and feel of the intoxicating aromas of exotic Coffee around the world and unravel the mysteries of their preparation.
The Advent of Coffee in India
The history of Coffee in India is as fascinating as the fragrant brew itself. In the 17th century, Coffee was a well preserved treasure in Arabia. Arabia prohibited the movement of green Coffee beans beyond its borders. Under these circumstances, an Indian Muslim saint named Baba Budan managed to get 7 Coffee Beans tied to his waist, out of Yemen and into Mysore, India. These seeds were planted on the Chadragiri Hills nearby and thus bloomed the Indian Coffee industry. The hill is now known as Baba Budan Giri. Today, Coffee production in India is predominantly done in the Southern states of India, with Karnataka accounting for more than 70%.
10 sublime Coffee experiences from around the World
Anything can happen over a cup of Coffee. Here we set off on a whirlwind tour that will take us across the world as we give in to the indulgence of some of the best and unusual Coffee experiences.
Indian Filter Coffee
Filter coffee rings in the morning in most homes and restaurants across India. Filter Coffee is at its aromatic and invigorating best, when it is made from freshly roasted and ground Coffee beans. The Coffee powder thus obtained is poured into the top portion of a percolator and hot water poured over it. The hot water slowly drips into the bottom of the percolator, taking with it the aroma and flavor of the Coffee. The decoction thus obtained is then mixed with milk and sugar according to personal preferences. The best filter Coffee can be had in traditional South Indian homes or one of the South Indian Restaurants.
Civet Coffee (Kopi Luwak)
This would rank as the strangest Coffee in the World and also the most expensive. Civet coffee is made from Coffee beans, which are semi-digested and defecated by an animal that looks like a cat and is called Then Palm Civet or simply Civet Cat. A cup of this unique coffee ranges anywhere from $35 to $100. This Coffee is available in Indonesia. However, if you happen to visit the Coffee land of Karnataka, Kodagu, you will get an opportunity to taste this unique brew. Though the procurement of the Coffee beans is unique, the preparation of Coffee follows the traditional method. However, one thing to be kept in mind is to drink the Coffee without milk and sugar as this is the right way to experience its unique flavor.
Turkish Coffee has been named as an intangible cultural heritage of Turkey by UNESCO. Turkish Coffee has a long history, as long as the history of Coffee itself, dating back to the 15th century. This type of Coffee is also called Qawah. Etymologically the word Coffee itself is derived from the Qawah. Turkish Coffee is prepared by roasting and fine grinding the Coffee beans. The powder is then added to water and heated and removed just before boiling. Usually the Coffee is had without sugar, but small or large quantities of sugar may be added as per preference. The Coffee thus prepared is poured into cups from a height, so as to create maximum foam in the cups. The more the foam, the better the Coffee.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of Coffee. Legend has it, sometime in the 9th century, a goat herd named Kaldi accidentally stumbled upon the Coffee plant and realized its energizing effects by seeing the effect the plant had on his flock of goats. The Coffee produced in Ethiopia is the variety called Arabica and consists of three different sub-varieties, namely Longberry, Shortberry and Mocha. Just as Japan has its tea ceremonies, Ethiopia has its Coffee ceremonies which, transform the making and drinking of Coffee into a ritual. The Coffee beans are first roasted over hot coals. Once roasted, everyone gets an opportunity to inhale the aromatic smoke. The roasted beans are then ground in a wooden mortar or pestle. The ground coffee is then put into a large kettle like vessel with a spout and boiled. The spout has a filter made of horsehair. After the Coffee is boiled, it is poured straight into handleless cups. Sugar is added to the Coffee and in some cases even salt or butter are also added.
Viennese Coffee is a popular variant originating in Vienna. The preparation of Viennese Coffee consists of preparation of two shots of strong black espresso. This is then mixed with generous helpings of whipped cream and twirled. The whipped cream replaces milk and sugar. The Coffee thus made is drunk through its creamy top layer. Chocolate toppings may be added to the Coffee.
Americano or Caffe Americano or American Coffee is presumed to have originated sometime during World War II, when the American soldiers stationed in Italy diluted the espressos with hot water to prepare the kind of Coffee they were used to at home. Thus was born the Caffe Americano or American Coffee. This type of Coffee consists of taking one or two shots of black espresso and adding hot water to it. The ration of water to espresso may vary based on personal preferences, but generally it is a 1:1 ratio. This coffee is enjoyed best without milk or sugar.
This Coffee originated in Valencia and later became popular throughout Spain. However, it may be argued, that this is a modified version of a type of Coffee that was already ruling the roost in South Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. This Coffee is known as “Kopi Susu Panas” in Malaysia and “Kafe Ron” in Thailand. Café Bombon is made by using black Espresso with sweetened and condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio. The condensed milk is added to the Espresso in a glass, so that the condensed milk settles at the bottom and the espresso is at the top, thus creating two layers of contrasting colors, which makes the drink visually appealing. Of course, when drinking, the contents are stirred.
The liqueur Coffee is a variant of the Irish Coffee. It consists of Coffee served with a shot of whiskey along with a top layer of cream that has not been whipped. This drink is considered as a traditional drink of Galicia, Spain. It is popularly known as Carajillo throughout Spain.
This is a traditional Vietnamese way of making and drinking Coffee. In Vietnamese it is known as Café Da. The Coffee is made by using roasted and ground Vietnamese Coffee beans. The ground Coffee is poured into a drip filter and hot water poured over it. The resulting decoction is then quickly poured into a glass full of ice. The Vietnamese Coffee is at its best if you add a couple of spoons of sweetened, condensed milk.
Ipoh White Coffee
Ipoh is the name of a town in Malaysia where the White Coffee originated. For making this type of Coffee, the beans are roasted in margarine and then ground. The Coffee is then brewed and served with sweet, condensed milk. The Coffee has a special creamy flavor due to the effect of the margarine.
I finished my article and looked at the cup of coffee on the table, I inhaled deeply the aromatic fumes emerging from the coffee and slowly drifting to the roof of the room. The fumes themselves were enough to rejuvenate me, but I picked up the cup and slowly savored the magical brew. I peeped out of the window of my hotel room at The Yercaud Rock Perch and smiled to myself as I thought of the Coffee plantation I had visited the day before & the way I had revisited the Coffee mystique once again.