Pi of Life : The Networker’s (Filter) Coffee Conundrum

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Pi of Life : The Networker’s (Filter) Coffee Conundrum

If you’re like me, you have too much coffee over networking with people all over town. “A lot can happen over coffee” says Cafe Coffee day to whoever is listening, and it does. Some also use the caffeine to work a few hours extra, and I’I’ve done it for late night attempts at catching up with impossible to-do lists too.

I like mine South Indian – hot, steaming, strong filter coffee with lots of sugar in it. Researchers suggest that the brew indeed does stimulate your nervous system, with no real harmful effects by and large – at least as long as you keep to under 4 cups a day. But I regularly exceed that number, and I’m sure all that sugar isn’t quite right for me! Coffee Shutterstock

The Costas, Gloria Jeans and CCDs of the world offer space for just hanging out and meeting people – the coffee is merely incidental. The push is for the “grande” and more and more ‘laced’ coffee, at a premium. Now with Starbucks in town, the premium just went up a lot more! But most of this stuff is not at all the awesome coffee we have grown up on – not even close. A lot of regulars at these places stick to cappuccinos – it’s usually the lowest priced, simplest coffee on offer, and personally, comes closest to the filter coffee which I’d really rather have anyday. The cold, iced versions are also popular at such coffee shops; again, I’ve never developed a taste for anything beyond the simple frappe and it’s just too much of a sugar bomb, unlike the hot versions where you can at least pretend to use lesser. It also helps that in Bangalore weather one does enjoy hot coffee more or less all year round.

And the fact that we have darshinis. Yep, I understand that Delhi and Mumbai need the 50 buck coffee cups for good coffee. But we have great coffee just about anywhere around here – and usually at a princely Rs.8/- or 12/- for a decent size glass or tumbler. I end up meeting a lot of folks – especially for the less formal meetings – at these places. It’s anyway about the conversation, no?

Even if you need a more formal setting, Bangalore’s starting to get a bunch of places which offer good filter coffee options – blacks, lights and regular – along with a more meeting-friendly ambience that let you spend a couple of hours. My favourites around where I live and work are Cafe Terra and Kalmane – you can even buy roasted beans and fresh powder from Coorg and Chikmagalur estates at the latter.

While I’m on coffee, I must mention the iconic India Coffee House outlets across the country. The one in Bangalore is on Church Street, and an experience to savour once in a while. Don’t get put off by the hygiene, or the cut-and-dry service – you’re part of history and the coffee and the snacks are just awesome! When I’m travelling and if there’s an ICH in town, I make it a point to visit it – be it in Manathavady, or in Chandigarh.

Here’s some coffee-101 gyaan for the unfamiliarFilter Coffee Shutterstock


Most coffee served in India is not 100% coffee but gets blended with chicory – a dried and ground root of the chicory plant. Chicory powder is bitter tasting, but when added to  coffee powder, it adds ‘body’ – or thickness to the coffee. Some also think that it enhances the taste and aroma of the coffee. Chicory also adds some dietary fibre to your unavoidable cup of coffee!

The Filter

This is a 2 part metal container made in steel or copper. The upper chamber sits atop the lower one, and has perforations at its bottom. You put coffee powder (typically a blend of good arabica and robusta, and maybe 10-15% chicory), compact it, and pour boiling water on top. The brewed coffee slowly percolates into the lower ‘storage’ vessel. This is commonly called the “decoction”. A little of this – maybe 10-20% – in a glass of milk, with sugar, and you have a will-wake-you-up brew!

I’ve heard both versions – some swear by the coffee that needs to drip slow, overnight, and others who do not consider it coffee if the percolated brew is more than a few minutes old. I prefer the thicker, stronger former version. Pick yours.

The filter also makes for a great gift along with a little coffee powder, especially for those in other parts of the country.

Have a great meeting, and enjoy the kaapi.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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