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Chicory coffee and me

INDIA | Tuesday, 6 March 2012 | Views [638]

The air gets thinner and the rich aroma of coffee mixed with chicory caresses my senses as I wait at the dusty little bus stop. A crowd of men patiently wait the next bus to take them into the neighbouring towns, the traffic is but a few jeeps ferrying to and fro from the mountains blanketed with coffee plantations.

The faint sun glints off the stainless steel utensils hung in the bazaar while a sweeper quietly sweeps the road adding to the dust circling around the road. Sounds of hymns and prayers arise from the temple nearby, a woman in a red saree hunches over making a ritualistic design with rice powder welcoming prosperity into her home.

A coffee grinder goes full throtle grinding up coffee beans and chicory into the perfect elixir of the south indian morning. The ground beans make it to the coffee filter a must for every home in the region, the bigger the filter the bigger the family. The coffee powder thus concocted is pressed, squeezed and mixed with milk and sugar only to be built into a froth with a practised art passed down through centuries. It is then poured into multiple steel pint glasses set inside tumblers, so that one can practice the frothing whooshing action for oneself before sipping the filter coffee which is a foriegn pleasure. The legend that any tour guide in the sleepy town of Chikmanglur will endorse, tells a story of Baba Budan who smuggled the first beans of coffee from Arab merchants and planted it amongst the tall teak trees laced with pepper vines.

Since then the coffee was embraced as an integral part in the land of chai drinkers. The mountains which nurse the coffee beans have an etheral feeling to them much like the heady sweet coffee. The tall trees punctuated with coffee plants where an occasional peacock flits through transports me to a prehistoric time . The ride up to the coffee plantation in the back of an old jeep acts as the perfect time machine.

The plantation with the quaint guest house reeks of coffee as it gets roasted and dried and packed. A gurgling stream which cut through the plantation imparts its earthy taste to the coffee beans as they sway and dance among the leaves.

All I can hear are the monkeys chattering in the trees, the brook babbling and the birds chirping as I sit sipping my cup as they tell me the story of coffee.

Tags: chikmanglur, coffee, india, mountains, on the road, small town


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