9 (Quirky) Things About Coffee, Travel and Me | #WhereisAJ

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That’s me, having coffee on a chilly morning in a dhaba (roadside eatery) in Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India while on a shoot with National Geographic.

Those who know my quirks know about my fetish for a good mug of coffee in the morning. My coffee time is the most important fixture of my day. And it is almost like a ceremony. It amuses some, perplexes a few – but others truly understand why I do this because they know the importance of good coffee. If you are curious about my ‘coffeeing,’ here is a primer:

  1. One (BIG) mugga a day: That’s what I have – a big mug (not cup) of black coffee in the morning daily anytime between 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. That’s my quota for the day.
  2. Make it an Americano or a French Press: That’s what I have – with no milk or sugar. Usually I order an Americano in a coffee shop, and brew in a French Press when at home.
  3. Beans matter: All coffee beans are not the same – I am not a connoisseur but I know what I like and what I don’t. I like it strong but not bitter or burnt strong. My preferred bean at home is Monsoon Malabar from Coorg in south India. I like Costa’s beans – I am not aware where they are from. At Starbucks India, I usually go for Sumatra or Kenya; I don’t like their Indian blends at all.
  4. The muffin or cake is all important: I cannot have coffee without a sweet in the form of a muffin or a non-creamy cake. Chocolate flavours are out but I could go for blueberry, almond, banana, vanilla or just plain. Yes, I am very particular about the quality and taste. Worried about calories? I make sure I don’t have more than two desserts in the day after this to keep calories under check.
  5. When in a new place, I look for the coffee first: This is my first concern when I reach a new place – what is the quality of coffee served in the town there? Very importantly, do they serve a good cake or muffin too? I even search on the net for coffee shops. I have actually walked around for hours looking for the right combination of coffee and cake – yes, it does exasperate my travel partners at times.
  6. When I travel, my coffee goes along too: Most places I travel to, particularly in India, don’t serve good coffee. So I carry my French Press and an adequate supply of beans to make the coffee I like. What about my cake? I carry some to last me a few days before getting spoilt. For longer trips, I carry biscottis from Diva restaurant in Delhi. Some chefs at my hotels make me a cake on request.
  7. Coffee in roadside dhabas (eateries): What about days when I hit the road early morning for a long drive? I may not feel like a coffee (and cake) at five in the morning – I would then stop at a dhaba and ask them to boil water for me. And then comes out my coffee bag – invariably, everyone in the dhaba stops sipping their tea with attention on me. The dhaba starts smelling of coffee. It’s fun.
  8. When people say coffee is coffee, it gets to me: When I see people (happily) drinking any coffee they are served, it gets to me – come on, have an opinion!! There is a difference between a milky, sugary instant Nescafe and a mugga freshly brewed in a French Press. When I brew coffee for such folks, I really wonder if they would notice if I added salt to it?
  9. I love brewing coffee for others: If you appreciate a good cuppa, you just have to ask me. I love serving those who have a taste for it – including at the Kunzum Travel Café. When we set up the café, it took me months before I found just the right coffee to serve – even to date, our coffee (and the brownie cookies with it) are the USP. Come over for a coffee with me.

It is the coffee that keeps me going – #365TravelDays #AJontheRoad.

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