Between sips: On the coffee trail

By: |
October 4, 2020 12:04 AM

Even though most of us were physically 1,000 km apart, the energy in the virtual room was palpable.

The coarser the grain, the longer the steeping time, an adage the Starbucks team reiterated for me.The coarser the grain, the longer the steeping time, an adage the Starbucks team reiterated for me.

International Coffee Day has just gone by and the new world seems intrigued by coffee, the serious kind and not just the Dalgona-for-Instagram type

The world is a new place and no morning passes me by without serving a generous dose of this realisation. For example, just this week past, instead of grabbing my usual iced green tea latte at the airport Starbucks (yes, I am a tea person; yes, I used to fly a lot; no, I don’t know if they still serve IGTL), I sat before my laptop, logged into a Zoom call, waiting to be let into the launch event of the Diwali blend by Starbucks.

Even though most of us were physically 1,000 km apart, the energy in the virtual room was palpable. And no, it wasn’t on account of the cold brew I had already downed in the name of breakfast. See, tea person to hipster cold brew, that’s the new normal for you.

The event was curated well. The Starbucks team brought in their best tasting talent to lead us through a fairly informative seance of their new product, starting us off with a sweet sour lozenge to help reset the tastebuds. Oh, sorry I missed this, but the preparedness extended to the point that we had all received the coffee blend along with the other requisites, a spoon and a bowl, to follow the steps and prepare our brew. It was professionally conducted and helped the new blend show well.

But more than just the blend, what I was impressed most with was the idea that these beans can be ground to our desired level of fineness, depending on how we wish to use them. The coarser the grain, the longer the steeping time, an adage the Starbucks team reiterated for me. So if I wanted to use this blend with my espresso machine, I would need it ground finer and their outlets would handle that request for me.

I was too chatty during the Q&A (I blame all that coffee!), but I am happy to report that none of my questions received boilerplate answers. Yes, you can enjoy your coffee with sugar and cream/milk. No, cold brew isn’t a bad thing. Sure, the coffee box says ‘consume within one week from opening’, but it can last longer—the taste may change, but it won’t entirely deteriorate.

Then, as if the coffee gods had heard of this event, more brews turned up. Rage Coffee sent me a pack of the instant kind, something I would never even bother to take out time to scoff at, but this promised to deliver something more than the usual quick cuppa. Trials followed and while I do still feel queasy about trying pre-flavoured coffees, I have also enjoyed the convenience of having a balanced creme caramel or Irish hazelnut at hand, especially when I wish to make a quick-fix brew, possibly using cold water and/or milk. It dissolves fast and tastes pretty decent, and allows me to adjust the sweetness. The typical burnt caramel taste of instant coffees (one which I loathe) is not entirely absent, but definitely curtailed. At no point will I mistake these brews for a fresh espresso (or even a curated blend like the one above), but it’s fit for situations when one isn’t entirely nerd-ing over the coffee being served. In short, if you are not a coffee hipster and just wish for a reliably good instant brew, these will do the job just fine.

So there you have it. International Coffee Day has just gone by and the new world seems very intrigued by coffee, the serious kind and not just the Dalgona-for-the-gram type. For the next column, I intend to stay in this space and delve further into more coffee-ness, or tea-ness, or maybe both. At the time of writing this, I have had six cups since the morning event and, so far, the typing seems to be fine even if it is (curiously) slightly elevated at 80 words per minute.

The writer is a sommelier

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