What’s Your Cup of Joe?

The menu board at a café can be a bit confusing. To help you make your choice easier we have decoded different coffee avatars. Read on to know more.

Remember the scene from English Vinglish where Sridevi’s character of Shashi is overwhelmed by the condescending attitude of the “bus girl” (the person who takes orders at the café counter) and the daunting menu at the coffee shop. In that scene, when asked by the bus girl which type of coffee she would like, Shashi responds with a simple request for “Nes coffee”. For her and a majority of Indians, coffee was and still is “Nescafe”.

 The Indian Avatars of Coffee

Till date coffee for most of us is one of these four varieties: hot, black, cold, and filter coffee. Hot coffee was prepared by mixing milk, sugar, and coffee powder, while black coffee consisted of just coffee powder and hot water, typically consumed by people working late at night. Cold coffee was a special treat usually reserved for Sundays, made with cold milk, coffee powder, sugar, ice cubes, and a sprinkle of chocolate powder. In South India, filter coffee or “Kaapi” is still the preferred form, made by mixing hot milk and sugar with a finely ground coffee powder infusion obtained through percolation brewing.

Navigating the Café Menu

The variety of caffeine-induced drinks that are available today at the coffee shops can be overwhelming for many of us. The inability to decode or understand the available choices can make one feel embarrassed. And when one is ridiculed for the same, it is nothing short of humiliation. While we don’t condone such snobbery, to keep pace with globalisation and cultural amalgamation, it may be helpful to learn a few terms to navigate through the menu and choose your cup of joe with ease. Here are a few terms to keep in mind:

Espresso – also known as a “short black” – is a concentrated shot of hot coffee liquor served in a small 30ml cup without added water. Biscotti – small rectangular biscuits containing nuts – is a good accompaniment for espresso.

Americano is a great choice for those who want a black coffee experience but don’t want it as strong as a short black. Americano is simply 90ml of hot water added to a shot of espresso.

Cappuccino, pronounced as ka-puh-chee-no, is a creamy, rich coffee made with equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. It’s generally served in a 150ml-160ml cup.

Latte, pronounced as la-tay, is a milder coffee drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of milk foam. It can be served hot or cold.

Mocha, pronounced as moh-ka, is a blend of coffee and hot chocolate, resulting in a creamy, rich flavour. It is ideal for hot chocolate lovers who want an added caffeine kick.

Macchiato, pronounced as ma-kee-aa-toh, is a great choice for those who prefer the intensity of espresso with a dash of steamed milk. It’s made with one shot of espresso and 1-2 teaspoons of steamed milk. Macchiato is served in a glass espresso cup.

Frappe, pronounced as fruh-pay, is a creamy, foam-topped coffee made by blending water, instant coffee, ice, and milk.

Iced Coffee is a cold version of your favourite hot espresso served with a lot of ice.

Cold Brew is not an iced coffee. It is a chilled coffee made from grounds that have been steeped in either water at room temperature, or cold water, for several hours. Cold brew stays fresh for up to two weeks when refrigerated.

The Future of Coffee

Over the last two decades especially during the last 3-4 years coffee has diversified in urban India with many different forms and varieties available today. Today experiencing gourmet coffee is not limited only to coffee shops. Brands like Blue Tokai, Davidoff, Country Bean, Rage Coffee, Sleepy Owl, Araku Coffee, SLAY, The Flying Squirrel, and Bevzillahave revolutionised the coffee consumption at home. With options like hot brew, cold brew, green coffee, coffee pods, instant coffee, jaggery coffee, and coffee strips among others, we are now spoilt for choice. Having said that we believe our good old Nescafe is here to stay and will remain in our hearts as the “Nice Coffee”.

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