Friday, July 15, 2011

My pick-me-up

Whenever he gets on the subject of filter coffee, Appa gets quite lyrical. He waxes poetic on how the decoction collects in a pool under the filter, drop by precious drop. How the milk is warmed gently, so as not to startle it, and then the decoction is poured into it in a steady stream. He describes how the concentrate blooms in brown ripples in the white milk. Then how the coffee is poured back and forth between utensils to warm it to tongue-blistering temperatures without allowing it to boil over, and to develop a thick froth on its surface. And then finally how it’s poured, masterfully, into a steel tumbler and must be drunk hot. Immediately.

But that is his description, not mine. For twenty three years, I’ve been able to take or leave coffee, as it comes. Indeed, my indoctrination into this coffee-drinking culture has been so subtle that I’ve only just realised it. But three months in Chennai, spent with relatives whose day doesn’t begin without a brimming tumblerful of coffee prepared just as described, made me appreciate its value. Recent events: an overload of work and a pleasant but time-consuming distraction, have made me cut down on sleep and so become more and more dependent on caffeine.

It has taken me a while and much experimentation, to decide exactly how I like my coffee. I tried it in Appa’s way. It wasn’t for me. His coffee was so hot I lisped for a week afterwards. Perima makes a smashing, perfect-temperatured cup of coffee, but she lives in Coimbatore: impractical for a weekday morning coffee run. Amma, with the best of intentions, is determined to make me drink as much milk as possible, and so adds far too much of it to my coffee. As for the cook’s coffee, ah, the less said, the better. I finally decided to take matters into my own hands, inspired by this recipe on Food52.
It was a weekend morning, humid and drizzly. Panda stared pensively out of the window while I boiled my water. We waited together for the decoction to percolate. When I finally had a little brown pool, I stirred in some brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. A generous clattering of ice cubes and a pour of milk later, it was ready.

I took a sip and I knew. I finally loved coffee.  


Groop said...

I am drooling all over the first paragraph!

Nithya said...

@Groop, you would. :)

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, now I'm craving a cup of the good stuff. If only the coffee available at the office were better ;)

Antariksh Bothale said...

I always thought (still do) that over-hot stuff is overhyped. There is only so much you can enjoy coffee/tea/soup that tries to scald your tongue. And if you are going to go all foo-foo over it trying to cool it before taking it in, why waste all that energy in making it so hot!

Unless the weather, or my health warrants it, I would pick a cold version anyday over a steaming one :)

Nithya said...

@Ellie, I hope you found some good coffee during the weekend, at least. That stuff in the office is toxic. :(

@Antariksh, I totally agree. I like my coffee cold. Stupid cold.

hayzeleyes said...

Reading Your description about the coffee impelled me to try it the way you described .... and some scenes of Malgudi Days got recollected when you mentioned about Chennai....

Shy said...

Hi Nithya,

Nice description of your Appas coffee.

I want some now.

The Merovingian said...

And right when i thought i was getting bored of the regular hot coffee, i stumbled upon this version!
And now i have it stashed in the fridge, ready to quench my thirst whenever i wand :)
Cinnamon and coffee seem to work really well. have to say that!
Great work with the blog btw Nithya. have marked it on my reading list. Keep those yummy recipes coming. And the pictures look fantastic too! Specially the jamun+yogurt purple toned pics!

Happy cooking.

Nithya said...

@Merovingian, I'm glad you liked the coffee. It was a revelation to me too. When I want a really special treat, I pour in a little condensed milk, but I don't confess to that very often. :p
Thanks for saying such nice things about my blog. :)