|English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de kafo. Français : Photo d’une tasse de caffé Español: Taza de café (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
My fascination with coffee began ever since I saw my mother and her chiffon and pearl clad friends daintily sipping a cup of coffee, their little fingers pointed out, having a mid morning tete -a- tete. Since then, I’ve associated coffee drinking with sophistication and have conscientiously pursued coffee drinking in my family of die hard tea addicts. This romance with coffee continued through college fuelled as it was by the “sophisticated” teachers at the Alliance Francaise downing cups of black coffee during our breaks.
|Filter coffee served hot and frothy in a traditional tumbler and dabara (Photo credit: Wikiped|
I loved having coffee with my friends at the nearby Udupi joint where coffee was served in a stainless cup in a cup – a pure decoction of genuine South Indian filter coffee, piping hot, milky and sickly sweet……. The coffee was poured from cup to cup till it frothed up into a foamy top through which we would slowly sip the divine concoction. Once a month when we were flushed with funds we would pop into the dazzlingly novel concept of a 24 hour coffee shop of the neighbourhood five star hotel, and empty out our pockets for a single cup to be shared collectively.
|City license for a cannabis coffee shop in Amsterdam, Netherlands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Much later in life, I realised how limited my knowledge of coffee shops really was – that there were not only 24 hr coffee shops but coffee shops and coffee shops! I remember excitedly telling Erwin, my husband’s Dutch colleague that Mumbai had some really good coffee shops ( referring to the newly opened Barista) not realising that his idea of a coffee shop was quite different from mine! Till today I am amazed at my naivete and can’t forget how shocked he was when the shop served coffee and only coffee!
Accustomed as I was to getting 250 g of Highlander beans roasted and ground at the local Phillips Coffee store, or ordering 200 g of Nescafe from the baniya, I was surprised to to find how coffee and coffee culture varied from person to person and country to country. I soon found that coffee could be filtered or instant, de-caff, Italian, French and Viennese . There was coffee grown in Guatemala, Colombia and East Africa and coffee made in a French press, Espresso machine or the simple coffee filter. There was also cappuccino, macchiato and latte, not to mention the subtly spicy coffee flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon.
|Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being used as a secondary logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
As a diehard coffee aficionado, it wasn’t long before I wanted to sip the coffee at the newly opened Starbucks in Mumbai especially since my daughter in the US had expressly forbidden me to step into a Starbucks while visiting her.So when finally Starbucks opened in amchi Mumbai on 19th October 2012, I felt that deliverance was at hand. Not only was my daughter not around to prevent me from drinking it, but having the liberty of spending in my own currency, I could indulge in a beverage that was wildly overpriced.
Alas! Things were not that easy. The lines apparently were so long that people had to wait a long while to get seated. Then parking outside was impossible and the shop’s timings were not suitable……and I actually began to despair of ever having a coffee at Starbucks when yesterday I suddenly and strangely found three outlets ( one at Powai, one at R City Mall and one at the domestic airport). It seemed that the Universe had conspired for me to finally have that elusive cup of coffee.
My sister-in-law and I decided to visit the Starbucks at Powai . On entering I asked the boy at the counter what a Frappucino was – he told me that it was coffee with ice.
“Is it a cold coffee?” I asked him , actually wanting to know if it was a creamy smooth coffee topped up with an icecream or if it was watery thin with crunchy icicles.
“No madam it is a coffee with ice.”
“Oh,” said I visibly crushed but determined to have a coffee all the same.” Ok, then how does one go about it? Do we order here and pick it up or what?”
“No madam, you order here and we call out your name and deliver it to you.” So we placed our orders, paid the money and found a table nearby waiting for our names to be called. My name with my cappuccino was called out soon enough and brought to our table by a sullen looking girl. Quite a while later my sister-in-law’s caramel macchiato was announced and the boy plonked it on the counter and gestured for her to pick it up! When I reminded him of his promise to deliver it to the table, he very reluctantly asked the sullen miss who brought along the coffee even more grudgingly than before. And what was worse, when I asked her for some sugar, she tossed a look over her shoulder and told me that the sugar was over there!
I must say I was really very disappointed at this appalling service more so since I had had such a pleasant coffee experience just the day before at Costa Coffee at Skyzone in Phoenix Mills. Costa Coffee has a similar model where the order is placed at the cash counter but the waiters who bring it to your table bring the sugar along as well and more importantly serve it with a smile.
The cappuccino in my cup suddenly became bitter and I realised why my daughter had banned me from entering a Starbucks in the US – not only is the coffee overpriced but the service is sadly lacking!!!
The verdict – for a really good cup of coffee there is nothing to beat the local Udupi but if you insist on something more international find a Costa Coffee or a Cafe Coffee Day……………..