9 (Quirky) Things About Coffee, Travel and Me

Brewing my coffee on the road in Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India

Those who know my quirks know about my fetish for a good mug of coffee in the morning – no matter where I am travelling. Even when on the road. 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. If I don’t have it latest by noon, I could develop a headache.
2. Make it an Americano or a French Press: Black. No milk or sugar please. 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. Of late, I have started buying beans from Peru, Indonesia, Brazil, Nicaragua (in small quantities considering their price) – I grind the requisite quantity to brew.
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. I know that’s a lot by most standards but I mange to tuck them in.
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 to observe 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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