I read the coffee piece by Tamildownunder... It reminded me of this piece I had written earlier... So, In IL I dedicate this to him! As far back as I can remember, our household has always woken up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. This is common in all Tamilian homes. The Keralites and the North Indians start their days with chai. For us, tam- brams, chai is a beverage to be consumed around <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:TIME hour="15" minute="0">3 pm</ST1:TIME> after a siesta. The wheel of action for the day is set rolling only with a cup of…sorry… a glass of …or more traditionally speaking, a tumbler of coffee. Our coffee is not the glamourous brew aired on the TV … where one finds young couples or maidens sipping from bright red or green mugs, uttering punchlines. We feel the satisfaction of having drunk coffee only when it is served in a ‘davara and tumbler’. And mind you, not for us, the instant variety. We expect coffee to be made with the decoction prepared in a coffee filter (what the Kamath and Saravanabhavan menus refer to as filter coffee.) The steaming hot coffee has to be alternately transferred to and from the tumbler and davara and sipped at a temperature agreeable to your tongue. It is always beneficial to be an early bird ... Nope, you don’t catch the worm… but you get to taste the coffee made with the freshly boiled milk and the first thick decoction. As the day progresses, the decoction is rendered thinner by the addition of boiling water a second time… and a third time ( for the poor unfortunate maid servant!) They say the cooks in wealthy homes drink the best coffees. The quality of the coffee served to the guests decides the reputation of the house. The right ratio of the decoction and the milk is the acid test for a good coffee. Many a marriage function has faced crisis because the sammandees did not get ‘degree Kaapi', a situation which results in Sammandi Shandai!’ I have always wondered what this degree kaapi is… May be it is the one that results in words like “Ida…ida … Idathaan naan edirpaarthen!” And normally the cooks are forewarned to ensure degree coffee for the ‘boy’s side’. The roadside teashops serve coffee in small thick glasses. You can see the residue of the coffee powder settling at the bottom as they don’t use filters, but strain coffee in cloth and I have never drunk such coffees to the last drop. Before I reach the settled dregs, I stop, thus not getting my money’s worth. Yet, holding a hot glass of coffee with both your hands and taking sips off it after blowing into it is an experience in itself! I first heard the term ‘Peaberry’ in my maternal grandmother’s house. She used to buy coffee beans, fry them ceremoniously and powder the crisp black beans in a manual powdering machine. The smell of freshly ground coffee powder as it falls into the receptacle, used to transport me to some heaven of delight! I thought peaberry was a kind of berry, a substitute for coffee bean and as far as I remember grandmother used to use it in combination with some other coffee beans, hence my misunderstanding! The size of the glass in which coffee is served varies from house to house. The elders in the family have their traditional ottu ( bronze) glasses or at least big steel glasses that can hold ¼ litre of coffee and they have matching davaras. Others generally have the steel tumblers half the size. It was a cultural shock for me when in my in-laws’ home coffee was served in miniscule glasses the contents of which would hardly suffice to wet my throat in the mornings. Generally, I have noticed that in Karnataka, the size of the coffee tumblers are much smaller than in those in the Tamil Nadu homes and the Palghat Iyers’ kitchens. After a few agonizing days, I found out why. The frequency of drinking coffee is more, so the servings are small. Though I have accepted this general practice, my mornings in Bhadravathi still start on a note of discontent. I know no one would refuse me a larger quantity of coffee in the morning if I choose to have one, but I believe in being a Roman in <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Rome</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY>, so I can always wait till I get back to my own kingdom, where we guzzle a large tankard full of coffee every morning…to the accompaniment of the newspaper. The North Indian practice of making coffee is rather funny. I mean funny- peculiar …not funny –ha ha! May be I should rephrase this statement. The coffee made by my UP and Punjabi friends taste good, but when I see the traumatic method of preparation, I really feel sorry for them. First my friend spoons out sugar into a cup. She adds coffee powder to it. Next she adds a few drops of … yes, DROPS… of milk into the cup and with a spoon starts beating it like you whisk eggs for a cake. This she does for 10 to 15 minutes, non stop, till the whole thing is a frothy mixture. It is then added to the milk boiling on the stove and the coffee is served. It all seems like futile exercise prior to adding calories ! And I can not cotton to their practice of drinking coffee after a meal, especially at night. Coffee at night is meant to keep you awake. Coffee is no longer a pick- me- up on a sleepy morning. Coffee joints have added new dimensions to our youth culture. These days, one can see stylish coffee bars where, hip crowds of the young and the restless hang around. People sit with a cup of coffee for hours together… If you do that in an Udupi restaurant or a Mallu’s tea-kkada, the waiter will come and whisk the glass away and wipe the table with a dirty rag literally telling you to get out or order something else! Initially I was appalled at the price of coffee in such places… Rs. 60 for an ordinary coffee…100 to 150 if it is laced with chocolate and / or other flavors. I realize the youngsters today have that kind of money to burn. Well… to each his own! I personally used to feel it was daylight robbery in Bangalore Barista till I had the Starbucks and Costa experience in the UAE. They seem to be the natural place to enter when you are an hour too early at the airport or in a mall…but afterwards you feel guilty about the amount of calories you have sipped in and the amount of cash you have shelled out! Whether in my earthen mug with the words ‘Coffee Addict’ or in the steel tumbler and ‘davara’, coffee continues to be the first thing on the agenda every morning in my life. I don’t mind doing without either tea or coffee for the rest of the day, but my cup that cheers is a must for me to get me going. There are thousands of us who are compulsive- coffee- drinkers- in- the- morning, and I dedicate this piece to them all.