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Why coffee is not just a simple cuppa

Brewing the right drink Tapaswini Purnes

Brewing the right drink Tapaswini Purnes  

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Fifth generation coffee estate girl Tapaswini Purnesh takes us through the fascinating new-age world of gourmet coffee

There’s already a cloud of coffee aroma hanging overhead as we step into Tapaswini Purnesh’s nifty little coffee lab, tucked away a little behind Bengaluru’s M.G. Road. She’s pouring out the golden brown brew from the French Press. Dainty Espresso coffee cups, mugs, cold coffee cans, and other coffee making paraphernalia from her family’s collection from all over the world line the walls of the lab.

Tapaswini is the fifth-generation in a coffee planter family that hails from Chikmagalur, which owns the Classic Group, a 150-year-old coffee company. She’s a partner and director of marketing and operations at Classic Synergy, a newer wing of the company catering to the next generation with branded coffees, and aims to make coffee exciting through coffee education.

Growing up with a love for food and coffee, it wasn’t long before this young mechanical engineer took off to one of the world’s most prestigious culinary and hospitality school in France - Le Cordon Bleu. There she studied cuisine and pastry for almost nine months, going through the grind 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. “I ran a cafe in Bengaluru from 2011 to 2014 called Berries and Barrels. But I always wanted to study at Le Cordon Bleu. You know how in India the attitude is to first have a ‘proper degree’ so I completed my engineering. Once I came back from France, I started observing the coffee culture keenly. Youngsters here really enjoy their coffee. It’s a cool and hip drink. Coffee shops are not just places to hang out with friends. They read reviews of the coffee served in a place before they head there...coffee drinking has become an event!”

Traditionally coffee exporters, their coffee, grown in their ancestral Kalladevarapura Estate in Chikmagalur and the Harley Estate in Manjarabad region of Sakleshpur, has found its way to U.S.A., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, says Tapaswini.

They grow the Robusta variety of coffee in Sakleshpur and Arabica in Chikmagalur.

They grow special micro-lots for over 30 buyers from around the world. From 2002 to 2007 they were regular suppliers to Italian company Illycaffe. Their coffees have also been consistently winning the Flavour of India - The Fine Cup Award judged by the Coffee Board of India annually, to promote the production of high-end gourmet quality coffee. “Gourmet coffee is when you put in extra love and taste into a cup. You put in so much precision, you can taste the difference,” is how she puts it.

Tapaswini takes me through the world of coffee taste, its acidity, the mouth feel, the world of coffee scoring, roasters and green coffee, blending, the nutty and chocolaty flavours of the coffee coming from the hills in her estate and more. She downs about six to eight cups of coffee a day, mostly black and without sugar, though her first cup in the day is always a traditional South Indian filter coffee with barely any sugar and with a happy layer of froth that her mother brews for her.

Food pairings and coffee

While we’re familiar with the idea of food and wine pairings, Tapaswini talks of coffee and food pairings with unimaginable passion. “Shall I give mixture or pakoda with coffee?

That’s been a habit for generations - we haven’t thought of it as ‘pairings’ but we do tend to reach out for savouries with our coffee. But fruits and lemon curd go well with a sugarless coffee. Apple works great with a pour over coffee.

It always doesn’t have to be savoury food and it always doesn’t have to be Indian food,” says Tapaswini.

Salted caramels go well with an Espresso, for example, she says. “With the right food pairing you can get the nuances of a coffee. Living in Europe I started appreciating that how much ever wine you have, you end your day with dessert and coffee.”

And, when she recently hosted an informal pairing workshop, it went down well with her guests.

While filter coffee rules the roost in South India, black coffee is becoming quite a thing in Mumbai and Delhi, she muses. Also going big are “pour over coffees” - pouring water over and through the grounds to extract the coffee flavours into your cup or serving vessel (through a filter of course) and , and ‘nitro coffees’ - black cold coffee, mixed with nitrogen and which comes out of a tap much like your beer!

The new mind boggling world of coffee

Heard of ‘bullet coffee’? A coffee decoction blended with just butter and sugar; no milk. “It came out of America over a year ago and was this big thing. Other additives to coffee include salt and coconut oil. Americans are coffee fanatics and now they are obsessing over what kind of water you use to make your coffee - the mineral contents of the water and the effect on the taste of the coffee.” Even the kind of glass you drink from makes a difference to the taste, she says.

“There is so much science to it.”

At the Singapore Coffee Festival this year, she says, she drank the unthinkable - a mix of coffee and tea!

“It had some Earl Grey tea, a sweet coffee liqueur and was topped off with lavender flowers and it was this most amazing taste,” she gushes.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 6:52:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Why-coffee-is-not-just-a-simple-cuppa/article14630746.ece

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