Monday, July 30, 2007

Sweet Taste of Coffee

During a rigorous semester (Spring 2002) that comprised over seventy two submissions over three and a half months strong black coffee seemed (and later proved )to be the only element that could rob me from my necessary pastime. I was in Hawaii. Hawaii is the home of KONA coffee. Since my earnings were limited, I had to learn to brew on a nine-dollar Procter Silex drip coffee maker. And because of the same reason I bought the economical brands: Yuban, MJB, Don Frisco and Hill Brothers. The day of paycheck receipt was different though. Specialty coffee from Peet’s, Starbucks, Seattle’s best all founds its way to the never say die shopping cart.

During those days, I was deeply moved by two basic forms of innovations in the disk drive industry. They are component-based innovations and architectural based innovations. The former was immensely experimented in terms of brewing coffee. Arabica VS Robusta, Indonesian VS South American, Dark Roasted VS Mild Roasted…there was no end to it. Buying an espresso maker or a Bodum French Press (for architectural innovations) was out of question for someone like me who was then living out of a twenty hour per week job as a library assistant.

I came back to Indian in March 2004. I wanted to bring some specialty coffee from Hawaii but my luggage was getting heavier so I had to return them to the stores. After coming back, I found brewing coffee was a real challenge. Ground coffee sold in Café Cofee Day (Dark Foret, Arabica) was grinded like talcum powder and the roast was not dark enough. The same held true for Barista. The shopping malls sold drip coffee maker but paper coffee filters were not available. The salesmen insisted on me using tissue papers but that imparts its smell on the coffee. After getting a decent job, I bought an Indian Coffee Press from Café Cofee Day and a French Press from Barista. While the small pores in the Indian Press was jamming the flow of the liquid, with French Press the sediments came straight to the cup. So I had to increase the size of the pores in one and use a second sieve in the other. So now when I need a clear cup of coffee I use the Indian Press (which takes longer) and when I need a very strong coffee I use the French Press.

Although the coffee never tasted like the ones I had in Hawaii, I started enjoying my efforts and moreover the company I had to coffee. The discussions ranging from Politics to game theory, from personal choices to diffusions of IT innovations and sometimes the sheer silence added flavor to the cups in Calcutta. Whether brewed by Barista, CCD or simply by me, coffee in Calcutta attained sweetness on its own.

My friends and acquaintances when travel keep sending me Startbucks on occasions and so I don’t miss the dark roasted full bodies coffee. Sadly, now my bags are getting packed and I will leave once again to pursue my ambition leaving my dreams and life back to the city of Joy. But one thing I know for sure I won’t quest for the sweetness of coffee in Calcutta. For I know, that will be a quest in vain.


priya said...

hiii Avi! nice, nostalgic blog! u know what? i think thrs nothing lk some good ol' nostalgia 2 make one feel good and all misty eyed. the tales of ur struggles perhaps dont even capture a fraction of the actual struggle u went thru. i admire u 4 that..and of course, ur tenacity 2 endure it all.

anyway, i belive ur (mis) adventures with coffee buying and making are symbolic of the entire "trial and error" method that life itself is.

u may have enjoyed discussing a wide range of subjects over endless cups of coffee shared with loved ones...but imagine NOW ur goin smplc whr u can do that and SO MUCH MORE in terms of researching those subjects u consider close 2ur mind. as 4 subjects close 2 ur heart, well, the sweetness of the coffee in calcutta wznt a function of d company or the discussion. the sweetness was a psycho-somatic manifestation of having some1 who'll listen (tho s/he may hv been a bad listener) and some1 who'll always b thr. and that wont change even when u go away! u obviously need not quest for smthng u'll always have!

a big yawn said...

i Have not tasted columbian Coffee...or Indonesian Java.. but i do have tasted .. the Coorgy filter.. An Indian Coffee.. well to be honest .. I am Coffee freak Myself.. and the best till date i have had is the Turkish Black ( sub set of Arabica)
The turkish saying goes:

Coffee should be: Dark as death .. Black as hell and bitter as love ..
( there was some thing to do with sweet..which i omitted out of selective amnesia.. as i dont like sugar in my coffee)

Well, i think u should try out our own Indian Coorgy.. its a taste to die for..well every country has its specialty.. but the thing is as most west or south Indians wont knoe what is Runglee, lopchu or Makaibari.. most east and north indians wont know what Nilgiri or coorgy is.. because.. we dont get it here.. and why is that so.. simple demand .. we north and East Indians..prefer Tea to coffee.. and vice versa..
Even a coffee freak like me will think twice to have a cup from a simple resturant.. I would like to get the statistics on howmany ppl have hot Barista or CCd out here.. mostly prefer the sweet colder version this side of the country.. where as.. the sweet milky .. tea of west and south, is equally disgusting to people who have grown upto darjeeling as their bed tea.. or good assam for that matter..
i teel u what.. why dont you carry a good coorgy version of the caffeine to USA. will give u the Indian touch and Aroma

avimanyu said...

I have tasted Coorgy...its sold by tata called Coorg. Rs. 40/200gms. U can find them in lake market.Very popular in South India.

a big yawn said...

no not that variant not the branded.., but the blended
from the coffee blenders,, u get it loose like tea

priya said...

here r some quotes 4u...

"The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge." - ~Daniel J. Boorstin

"Life begins as a quest of the child for the man and ends as a journey by the man to rediscover the child." - Laurens Post

and FINALLY, a funny one:
"Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities: the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates." - Abbott Lawrence Lowell

avimanyu said...

I really liked the Lowell one....He was referring to undergrad exceroence though (freshman, Sophomere, Jr. and Sr.) though its applicable in Masters and Doctoral level too [:-)]

avimanyu said...

The non branded ones mix coffee powder with Chicory....I dont like Chicory. Only tata cafe sells pure coorg. Try it u may like it. Lets see if I can have a word with Howard Schulz so that he can have a Starbucks Coorg. What say you?

priya said...

uffffffff....paarchhi na! ebaar aapni chollllen Howard Schulz er shaathey kotha bolte! faata faati!

UD said...

Hey Avi…coffee isn't my forte..but I do loved the coffees you brewed..I wish I have one more opportunity before you take to the skies. I wish you have your own coffee studio some would be different from the coffee bars that you have these days. I coined studio with coffee ,for it should have youe own signature all round. A coffee that's distinctly you -- about that pal?

iHatEtiTo said...

some like it hot, some like it cold, i like it in the pot nine minutes old.......
well, what i get here is either kenco or the "trade, not aid" african ones. do have starbucks, but do not have the time to walk down to the shop. in fact its been about a month since i walked down to a shop to buy me a soap bar! (well, dont panic cos someone else did it for me), but we are missing a point here, are we?
the core is, coffee tastes sweeter with friends around, just like whisky (the only analogy i can draw) tastes headier.
the point is - life is more beautiful with friends around - flowers are more aromatic, evenings are more pleasant, food is tastier and work is smoother when friends are around. i remember some afternoons bogged down in work back in calcutta, when i'd get a call and a certain person would ask me to drop everything and join him for lunch. that'd be the trigger. what'd follow next is an appeal to all other known people to join the lunch party, and an experiment with chopsticks. imagine having lunch by yourself - it kills your hunger, but does it fill your soul?
avi - another time - dont go.

priya said...

hey Avi, wise words from Tito! are u listening?

priya said...

hey tito! i guess, at the end of the day wat matters is if one feels content and happy. if goin 4 his ph.d mks avi happy, y stop him? if he has a dream, he has a commitment to it, 2c it thru 2d culmination.

Srikumar said...

Hey Avimanyu...Indeed a mention of Starbucks and I recalled my early morning coffee in Osaka during my 3 months' stay there....I wish you all the best in what ever you do ( I know you give you 100% to what ever you do....remember the passion for martial arts and the jigs you demostrated with bench press during school days ;) this moment if I could ...I would have dedicated a Song for you " Am leaving on a jet plane....dunno when I'll be back again".....take care and keep in touch

iHatEtiTo said...

time for a new writeup dude

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