Thursday, December 8

Tea-loving Kolkata develops a taste for artisanal coffee

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With pastel-hued walls, French windows and a decor dominated by European aesthetics – coffee shops mushrooming all over the city are luring young coffee drinkers with not just a host of fancy drinks to choose from, but the option to learn about what all goes into making that perfect cup of coffee and how to brew one at home. The coffee culture in a city traditionally known for its love for cha is no longer confined to run-of-the-mill cappuccinos and mochas. Young coffee enthusiasts have moved on to artisanal coffee like stovetop moka pots, pour-overs and French press – discussing their drink’s origin, bean roasting methods, acidic content and brewing techniques.

Youngsters bring good coffee home

Youngsters bring good coffee home

Gone are the days when coffee lovers would depend on instant coffee to get their day started. From percolators to French press and fancy coffee machines – markets are now filled with different equipment to help them make real coffee at home. “Thanks to the new wave of coffee literacy, nowadays a lot of young people have a perfect coffee set-up at home. The sale of coffee machines has gone up in recent months. Moka pots, French press, plungers and pour-over drippers are in great demand. I see many youngsters joining barista courses just to learn the methods of making a good cup of coffee. At our cafe, a lot of customers end up buying coffee beans or freshly ground coffee so that they can go back home and get involved in coffee making themselves,” said chef Urvika Kanoi of The Daily.

Millennials know their coffee: cafe owners

Historically, the so-called intellectual Bengali college-goers around College Street would get their first taste of bitter-sweetness in a freshly brewed infusion through the quintessential black coffee served at the Indian Coffee House. While today’s cafe crowd is full of young college students too, they are decidedly more hip compared to their seniors. Along with hot, freshly brewed coffee, they also look for Instagram-worthy corners and specially crafted brewing apparatus to enjoy their beverage. “When I started in 2009, there was no Instagram. The coffee-drinking millennials are way more educated now compared to that time,” said Nikhil Chawala of Marbella’s, adding, “Our customers between 25 and 35 know their coffee. They have shifted from the humble cappuccino to the new-age, manual brewing techniques, including pour over, French press, cold brew and so on.”
Nishant Sinha of Roastery, which has outlets in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi, also presented a similar picture. “Of all the places, our black coffee sales are the highest in Kolkata. At our Delhi and Hyderabad cafes, most people opt for cappuccino and cold coffee. It seems Kolkata is more enthusiastic about single-estate coffee. I also think that since a large number of the population here is hooked to black tea, their transition to black coffee is smoother. Our coffee cherry tea is pretty popular too,” he said.

Roasteries galore across the cityThe city has seen a meteoric rise in the number of roasteries and craft coffee shops in the past few years. The speciality of these cafes is that they source and roast coffee beans as per demand. Blue Tokai, which has cafes all around the country, recently opened its third outlet in Kolkata despite the wrath of the pandemic and lockdown. In-house roasting too has its degree of intensity and coffee lovers take great care to ensure if their coffee is light-bodied, acidic or bitter. There are four kinds of roasts – light, medium, medium-dark and dark. “The most popular roast is perhaps medium-dark. Besides the single-estate coffees that we procure from Karnataka, we also get green beans directly from the farmers and 80% of our coffee is roasted in-house,” said Nikhil. “Only micro batches of other estate coffees come to our shop for delicate brewing,” he added. Grant Walsh, owner of 8th Day Cafe & Bakery, which has two outlets in Kolkata, takes equal pride in his roasting process. “We roast our beans at our Hindustan Park outlet to ensure the freshest quality. We use what is regarded as one of the best coffee roasters, which we imported from Germany. Our staff roasters are also professionally trained in the art and science of roasting,” he said.

ndian coffee a hit

India is the third-largest producer and exporter of coffee in Asia, and the sixth-largest producer and fifth-largest exporter of coffee in the world. The country accounted for 3.14% of the global coffee production in 2019-20*. Hence, most craft coffee places in the city highly depend on south Indian hill plantations. “We source green coffee beans from Karnataka. The main coffee farms we source from include Balanoor, Thogarihunkal Estates and Travancore. These are arabica beans, which are more popular across the globe,” said Grant. Other city cafes also source most of their beans from Chikmagalur and Coorg.

Source: Times of India

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