The Coffee break
N J Ravi Chander
Remember those old commercials where a person is roused from their slumber by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee? Many swear by its magical powers; we believe it calms frayed nerves or eases headaches. Former US President Thomas Jefferson termed it the favourite drink of the civilised world.
The story goes that Ethiopian goat herder Kaldi discovered the coffee berry by chance when his goats turned hyperactive after feasting on them and did not doze off as usual. Kaldi reported his findings to the local monastery’s abbot, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long evening prayer. Knowledge of the berries spread, and the refreshing drink soon replaced the common breakfast beverages of the 17th century – beer and wine.
During my childhood days, coffee was consumed with jaggery, as sugar was costly. The golden clumps of gur were stored in a tall, air-tight tin container and would be refilled every month. We graduated to coffee with sugar much later, unaware that we lost the goodness of jaggery.
I will always cherish the memories of enjoying my breakfast with grandpa as a school-going lad. The cup of steaming filter coffee was the perfect accompaniment to the breakfast of soft, triangle-shaped chapatis and spicy tomato chutney. The flavour lingered long after and was just what the doctor ordered!
My late father’s favourite breakfast, unbelievably, was chapati with coffee. He would remove its soft ends, roll it and dip it into the coffee before taking a bite. The practice caught on with his off springs. One of my great grand-aunts, my mother-in-law, and my maternal grand-uncle loved to have their ambrosia in a tall, brass tumbler. They were hardcore coffee addicts, and anything less than this measure would upset them!
The longest-running talk show in Indian television – Koffee with Karan, hosted by the film producer and director Karan Johar—derives its inspiration from the brew. The coffee hampers given out to the show’s winners contain, besides other goodies, a personalised coffee roasted by Blue Tokai.
There is also an English weekly aptly called Coffee land News, printed from Coorg, the ‘land of coffee’. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart and respiratory disease, stroke and infections. It is the ‘cup that cheers’!
(The author is a former banker. He is a regular contributor to Kashmir Vision besides contributing to various regional and national publications)