My tryst with coffee started at railway stations at the Nescafe dispensing machines. I would press into it two Rupees and fifty Paise and get a small Styrofoam cup brimming with the liquid topped with lovely foam. I had it whenever we travelled by train as the machines were mostly available at stations en route a long distance destination. I remember how I savoured it to the last drop. Alas I do not find these machines anywhere now, least of all railway stations. Airports do have them- rather fancy ones but I don’t trust these machines to deliver an excellent cup of coffee, the coffee looks great, but oh the first sip is always the last sip.
My tryst with evolved coffee (the ones that where coffee is not just coffee but espresso, cappuccino, cherry laced, mocha, chocolate, latte and other seemingly endless versions that the coffee serving staff is trained to ask the customer when all he wants is a simple cuppacofee!
I have always dreamt of having a cup of coffee under the lovely awnings on a Paris sidewalk, in the many cafes that line European streets. It is still a dream. The books I read in college led to visions where I discussed philosophy in a smoke filled cafés with painters, artists, and it was always Paris, it was always the beret, the Gauloise and of course Sartre and Camus, of days spent on cheese, wine and Baguette under the arms and to top it that great cup of coffee. Over the years I must have invested a fair bit in foreign currency for that full-bodied, satisfying sip. As an investor since I am more in the mould of Warren Buffet, I still do not consider my investment as wasted, I am into it for long-term! But so far, so wrong, or so empty, my name should be de Nada as far as my luck with this brew goes. I would say the coffee that comes closest to my buds is Bru. The best so far- it is sweet but not too sweet, bitter but not so bitter that I need to empty endless spoonfuls of sugar. Nescafe is too sweet and it leaves an aftertaste and oh oh a coffee breath. So if you are in a closed meeting room with zero ventilation, chances are that the customer is going to take his or her business somewhere else.
There a bottle called Café COlombe- I think brought out by Nestle- and I think you do get it here. I first had this six years ago, when my friend bought it for me at a princely sum of seven Pounds. I was quite stingy with doling it out and had it maybe once in a week. I made that jar- all of 500 gms last me a good six months. Later I had to finish it for the fear of it getting congealed. It was different than out Bru or Nescafe. The coffee was all granules. They would dissolve so easily in water or milk and the aroma that it released when it mixed with either of it was ...well let’s put it that way, it brought tears to my eyes. But one cup was always different than the other.
I still didn’t get the desired consistent results with the best coffee I have had to date.
I still believe that there are two dishes/ drink/ foods that are best made at home- coffee and pasta.
Coffee is best made by yourself or someone who knows perfectly how you like it. The right measure of milk, cream, sugar, water and the right temperature. The hunt is still on. The best hunter is not the one with the biggest gun but with patience and so I have decided it is with coffee.