Monday, November 14, 2011
Ballad of the Coffee Drinker
Sometimes I dream of the aroma of fresh coffee decoction dripping slowly into the filter before I fall asleep. Brewing it the next morning. Adding just-boiled full-cream milk (with the cream, of course) and the right amount of sugar. Stirring it slowly, the fumes wafting up and dissolving the last mists of sleep. Each sip heaven, savoured and swirled around till the tastebuds drown in ecstasy. After three or four wonderful sips and swallows, a chocolate chip cookie dunked and eaten, the chips melting in the mouth. Scooping up the coffee-soaked chocolate with a spoon after draining the cup to the last drop.
My dear departed uncle, a retired college principal, was a coffee junkie, a true-blue Tam Brahm who would have demitasses of the brew every hour. My aunt had one of those gargantuan coffee filters of gleaming brass, which contained enough ‘digashan’ to feed a multitude. He lived to a ripe old age of 83 despite dire predictions of an early death, because, according to me, he had coffee, not blood, flowing in his veins!
When I was a kid, I would clamour for ‘decoction coffee’ every morning. Mom would put two drops into a glass of milk and serve it grandly as ‘colour kaapi’! I would feel very grown-up. By the time I was thirteen, I was well and truly initiated into proper coffee drinking. I would look down my nose at the instant variety – only unadulterated-with-chicory filter coffee for me.
Later in life, coffee at seven, coffee at eleven, coffee at four, okay, coffee at any which hour, pure bliss. Just for the experience I tried, I really tried drinking cappuccino, espresso, latte, hazelnut-flavoured, even cardamom-flavoured coffee, but nothing, nothing to match pure peaberry, roasted to perfection in Mom’s ancient blackened hand-operated roller, ground to the right coarseness in the equally-blackened cast iron hand grinder, only minutes before brewing the decoction. One of my enduring childhood memories is the fragrance of roasting coffee beans filling the whole house, infusing our hair and even the clothes, so that when I burrowed my head in Mom’s lap it would redolent with the scent of coffee.
Recently I read what I’ve already known for years – indeed since my ‘colour kaapi’ days – that coffee is good for health. Those adventurous goats in Ethiopia probably knew it, too. It chases away the blues, protects against Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. It even reduces the chances of developing diabetes – but remember only if you have four cups of good ol’ caffeinated or filter coffee every day and before you develop any of these ailments! There is something then, to be said, for starting early…
So quick, run out and buy that filter you’ve always wanted before the medicine men change their minds. Pack one-third of the upper container with powder. No matter that it is store-bought. Press it down gently with the slotted umbrella. Slowly pour in the boiling hot water. Wait. Inhale. Ahhh…if there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.