The first time I met coffee was not in its usual popular avatar but in its raw form. It looked angry when I stared at it with wonder and took in as much as aroma as possible. They were weirdly shaped with a line going in between. Acha had to drag me away from the perfume section as the sales guy became paranoid whether will something happen to the contents in that fancy box. I pictured them to be magic beans.


They were mystic after all, after having a cup of coffee, acha would mysteriously disappear until I see him walking out from the bathroom door with relief. I hated running to the bathrooms and this was one of the reasons I despised coffee during my childhood. But still acha continues drinking coffee right after he had his breakfast till date.


This caffeine beverage however acts a lubricant in lives of everyone I am associated with. My teachers who are bugged by the doubts that crop in our brains find solace in a small 200ml cup for 2 mins. Amma spends her leisure time by sitting down with her cup of Bru around 4:30 in evening, puts down some music channels and ignores my ramblings or arguments. The conversation filter is only suspended when something important turns up.


If you have stayed in Chennai for a significant period of time, you would have been bombarded with the term ‘Filter Coffee‘. It is a weird phenomenon which is often found in Mylapore households. And filter kaapi doesn’t usually linger the streets of Madras, Kausalya suprabhatam has to be there along with it. They are the evergreen jodi that can give SRK-Kajol and any other iconic pairs a run for their money. Dabarah and Tumbler in which they are served is probably one of the fascinating things I have come across. My friend’s mother described the art of preparation and drinking it. “Once you pour some decotion and milk in it, you would feel like you are part of a soulful harmony going in sync with nature”. But the drink didn’t fascinate me, I have always assumed that there is a magic compartment in the dabarahs which had a backup supply and refills.


I have been supplied a lot of coffee in spite of no demand from my side. It has been tough to ignore the drink in social gatherings. I always felt it tasted bitter and my parents do not put much sugar. I have the urge to fill 1/4thof my cup with sugar. I blame this urge on the genes inherited from ammuma. Coffee always seems like it acts as a key in your conversations. And having a cup in hand makes you look intellectual even though your opinions taste horrible.


Whoever I have come across has argued on how Railways serves the worst coffee ever. ‘Neither do they have a flavour nor do you get a taste of milk’. ‘It is a waste of money and assault to your taste buds’ were few opinions I had heard. However, the salesman pitch to sell the coffee makes it enticing enough for you take a risk. ‘Kaappiii Kaappii’ will probably be the zing or the energy boost you need and the cup you buy from him is just an unfortunate incentive.


But over the course of time, I embraced coffee. It doesn’t taste awful as I thought it does or I might have just acquired the taste. There’s a cool coffee club organised by my seniors and good friends of which I am part of. The topics oscillate just like the flavour of the drink. From strong punch and topics like journalistic writings, politics and education to light matters and lame jokes. I would still prefer my glass of milk overloaded with Horlicks powder but I am beginning to like the calming effect it does on me. The best part is I don’t have to run to bathrooms and can waltz around. Coffee has somehow turned out to be a gateway of sorts to weird moments, trends and history and giving me a chance to mull over memories.


Z is however still not satisfied that I haven’t had chayya as much as kaapi and we have had small ‘arguments’ on which is better before she declares herself the winner. Trying out chai is another story which I shall write soon. Unless we can talk about it over a cup of kaapi… or chayya? Your choice.

One thought on “koffie.coffee.kaapi.

  1. I have been a coffee drinker since I was quite young. I was raised on American drip coffee, and later exposed to the sweet delicacies served at coffee shops in the States. Once I moved to the UAE< I learned a lot more about coffee, trying thick, coarse Turkish, floral Arabic, and bold flavors of French Pressed. When I went to Tamil Nadu, I was hooked into filter coffee. In Kumbakonam I went to a hotel inside a temple and had a great cup, nearly burning my fingers on the metal, but excitedly slurring the sweet, milky concoction.
    Most days, I end up with Nescafe black, but I do know my way around a good cup o' joe.


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