By Gaurav Karn
"Within the glass and chrome interiors, you may realize a huddle shouting out “Cappuccino!”, a couple melting into each other’s eyes over the cream of a Frappe, and a never receding throng at the counter debating between the above two and the Macchiato, Affogato, Cafe latte, Ristretto and so on."
The aroma of coffee lingers… leading you on the path of how, why and when the beverage became a hot favourite – the history of Coffee in India! Coffee became a development solely within the late 1970s, although coffee beans made their way to the Indian landmass by as early because of the 17th century. Tracing the journey of coffee seeds to Ethiopia, wherever it's believed to possess been cultivated initially, the beverage beside tea was a preponderantly European and Middle Eastern drink.
In the early stages of its entry into India, coffee was a lot of of a colonial drink, ordinarily related to the elite and trendy of us of the Indian society who worked below British throughout the pre-independence era. It had been thought of comparatively made because it was brewed in milk, compared to the standard tea that mainly used water as a base.
So how did the flavour of coffee slowly seep into the Indian cultural ethos? From its origin in Ethiopia to the beverage’s quality in Yemen, (Mocha is a port in Yemen) as found in Sufi monasteries, the seeds have undertaken a ‘pilgrimage’ of sorts. While it went through many transformations to become the coveted seed of a refreshing drink, the genesis of the coffee is believed to begun in Chikmagalur.
Dating back to 1600 AD, it had been the Indian Sufi saint, Baba Budan, who throughout his journey to Mecca made the finding. Travelling through Mocha, he found the dark, aromatic liquid known as Qahwah, that was distinct and refreshing. Grabbing a couple of the coffee seeds and tucking it in his chest – for the Arabs showed an overarching heart concerning about their precious coffee – he brought them to India and planted the seeds within the yard of his abode in Chikmagalur. And this is how coffee was introduced to the Indian soil. From the yard of the Sufi saint’s abode, the beans proliferated to the hills, that later came to be called the Baba Budan hills, or Baba Budangiri regionally, in Chikmagalur. The history of coffee in India follows quite an attention-grabbing path through the country. From the birthplace of coffee in Chikmagalur to the thriving plantations in several regions of South India, the colonial influences in spreading the ‘aroma’ were robust. The Dutch selected the Malabar region to cultivate coffee, whereas British spearheaded a plantation drive of Arabica coffee across the hilly regions of South India, where each the climate and also the soil were found to be apt.
From a little piece of land to a widespread kingdom, coffee established its reign within the Western Ghats region of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The offshoots of coffee cultivation have additionally unfolded to non-traditional areas on the Eastern coast, in states like Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, further as some regions within the North East. India is currently home to around sixteen distinctive styles of coffees. However, all varieties trace their roots to the essential Arabica and Coffea Robusta beans. The variations, though, have spurred a tasting culture where, depending on the texture of the beans and flavour of the coffee, the place of origin and season of harvest are often determined. From the time of harvest to the method of preparation and production, the rich coffee flavour gets infused at every stage. It's at the roasting stage that specific blends added to impart the signature aroma to the drink. The two major variants of ancient Indian coffee, that is widely consumed in most homes, are instant coffee and also the much-loved filter coffee. The instant variety is available as a readily soluble granulated powder whereas the filter coffee powder demands a different treatment altogether.
The distinct fragrance of filter coffee has created an iconic part of South India with patrons from across the subcontinent and the world. The filter coffee is the quintessence of the South Indian tradition with the Kumbakonam, Mysore, Mylapore/Madras filter kaapi (as it's brought up colloquially) creating a distinguished presence on the table. For example, the coffee houses in Chennai, from the vintage to the new age ones, that serve filter coffee have a devout following and are crowd pullers amongst tourists too!