A long time ago a friend described the 'Filter Coffee' as we know it, as a South indian Latte. I had to take offence.For something that has become the marker of all occasions great and small, and over the years the defining symbol of South Indian hospitality, I found this description reductionist It is so much more and defies comparison.
Visiting home after a hiatus of 2 years, it's one of those things I've sorely missed. Nescafe doesn't even come close. In true blue South Indian style I craved the perfect cup of strong filter coffee, with the right amount of bitter and that sweet hint of dissolved sugar; not too much but just enough for the two to complement each other in subtle flavor some ways. But am picky when it comes to my coffee.
I have a list of people who make the grade ;). And so when we got home in the afternoon my dad had everything ready to make me the perfect cup.
For the best coffee, the 'Dicoction' (the brew itself)should be freshly brewed. Let to sit even a few hours and it gets rancid. Yes yes, I know most people fridge and reheat before adding it to warm milk. But I am very very discerning and call tell the difference. So don't think for an instance that you can break this cardinal rule and get away. The milk is heated separately and then the two are blended together, sugar added and then everything served in an 'Dabara and Tumbler'; The two made of stainless steel are essentials in serving coffee. Without them it would be incomplete
There are methods to adhere to. Throw away the spoon and instead transfer the coffee from the Tumbler to the Dabara and then back again. The sugar gets dissolved and you have yourself heaven in a cup. By this point the intoxicating aroma begs you to take a sip.
As a child I used to visit the shop where my mom used to diligently buy her coffee mix. Peaberry she would say and would add No chicory, explaining to me as we walk away that adding chicory is a cheat that makes the coffee look but not necessarily taste better.
Having your cuppa at home is one thing. But coffee is such an integral part of our culture, A ritual slipped into mundane everyday events. A quick stop at any one of the numerous restaurants in the South , never fails to rejenuvate. I've lost count of the number of times my brother and I have shared the spoils of the golden brew at the Adigas in Bangalore; 'By 2' as we say in true Bangalore style, by which we literally mean a half portion each.
Even with the mushrooming Baristas and coffee outlets around cities in the South, none can rival the filter coffee in taste or in value for money. It's the one thing everyone loves irrespective of their standing, rich or poor; It's a leveler of sorts.
As our plane took off, my husband and I were already talking about our next trip to Saravan Bhavan and to me that meant another delicious cup of golden filter coffee!