We all love coffee. Let’s not generalize, but I personally love it over tea and that’s definitely a personal choice. From some simple berries to being one of the most loved drinks across the globe, coffee has definitely come a long long way. In our city of joy, we definitely have some good tea joints, but sadly, cafes serving good coffee are pretty rare. Or that’s what I used to think. And then I came across this small cafe named Pit Stop Cafe and my conceptions was changed. But first let’s understand a brief history of ….. no, not time, coffee …
One mad adventurer from Ethiopia
There are myths and folklore on what can be the origin of coffee. Many stories are there, but what we can understand in common that there was this adventurer from Ethiopia, who noticed a strange phenomenon in wild animals. Upon consuming berries/fruits from a certain plane, they tend to become super active. Now one way or the other, he chanced upon roasting them and consumed them himself and voila, there was coffee. Sufi monks, in fact, thought of coffee as a great philosophical drink. Years passed by and by the fourteenth century, the coffee house started to emerge as the hub of intellectuals. The main cities hosting them were Kairo and Istanbul, to name a few. By the seventeenth century, coffee traveled to Europe and soon coffee started to replace the breakfast beverages like beer and wine. By eiteenth century, coffee reached America.
But where is coffee in India then?
And somewhere in between the gentleman named Baba Budan went on for Haj and brought 7 coffee beans from the port of Mocha, Yemen. And voila, coffee was introduced to India. Nobody in Arab checked the Baba and he got successful in smuggling them here. The beans were planted in Chikmangalur and coffee plantation started. In fact, there is a place named Baba Budan Forest there. It’s said the first coffee shop in Kolkata was opened around the Battle of Plassey, in 1757. But much later, in around 1942, the first coffee house was set up in Mumbai, which soon set up its branches in Kerala and Kolkata.
But so many types of coffee …..
Enough history and frankly it’s not these stories that I was getting confused with. Cappuccino, Mocha, Latte, Filter coffee …… blah blah … With so many varieties, I am getting confused with them actually. which is what? During my childhood, at some marriage function, apart from good looking women, I used to get amused by those espresso coffee makers. The steam, the sound, juggling of coffee- man, it was a sight to believe. But it was much later that I came to know that espresso is a black coffee and not that marriage function stuff with milk, sugar and loads of froth. so, if we need to know about the different varieties of popular coffee, this illustration from Indian Spot here might be useful.
A bit about coffee beans…
So we can safely say that there are two primary varieties of coffee beans in the world- Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is harder to grow and is the more expensive one. Whereas, Robusta is the pocket-friendly variant with a more bitter after-taste. The cheap coffee that we get in the market is mostly made from Robusta beans. So the next time someone acts as the coffee expert, politely ask him/ her about the beans. suggestively, a blend of Robusta and Arabica gives a better result. Where Robusta provides the strong body and color, Arabica provided the creamy smoothness. However, to each one, his own. And do tend to play around combinations to get your perfect blend. Other varieties of coffee beans are definitely there, but these are the two prime ones. It’s beautifully illustrated here in this graphics from Printwand.
Pit Stop Cafe, finally …
Phew, loads of Gyan and I myself am tired. But there is this small quaint cafe, tucked in the lane in Kasba, where I got some serious coffee- Pit Stop Cafe. The location can be found on Google map here. And the person running this place, Saptarshi, is obsessed with coffee. He told me that they use only Arabica beans. Hmmm , I was getting a bit surprised on the smoothness of his coffee and that probably explained it.
French Press and Aeropress Coffee
Upon my standard query of asking what should I have, his favorite suggestion was the French Press Coffee. I am someone who likes my coffee to be a strong one and I was happy. for the new ones, it’s being done using a simple French press machine. Measure your beans, grind the hell out of it, brew them using hot water as per your choice of darkness and voila, your French Press Coffee is ready. Let me warn you, it’s one strong stuff and luckily Pit Stop Cafe serves it with a small shot of water – in case someone needs it.
But if the same stuff is done using an Aeropress machine and using a disposable paper filter, it’s Aeropress Coffee. The filter takes away most of the coffee solids and thus making it smoother. Also with an Aeropress machine, the brewing time is shorter, thus ensuring less acidic coffee.
Some other drinks there?
Now apart from the French press and Aeropress Coffee, Pit Stop Cafe offers some very interesting international drinks like Paraguayan Terere, apart from Portuguese Chimarrao and Spanish Mate. Terere is the national drinks of Paraguay and basically an organic tea. It’s basically an organic tea and served chilled. But this stuff helps in reducing weight and helps the heavy tobacco smokers. It tasted like a typical green tea, but with a smoky lemony twist. I was told, that once the drink is over, cold water can be poured in and the drinks can be re-filled. I am not very sure whether or how many times they allow it to be done here.
The food is good. I’ve not tasted many a variety, as primarily I go there to enjoy my cuppa coffee. But my other favorites at Pit Stop Cafe are the Cafe Mocha and the 3D art that they do on their Latte. Most of the places that I’ve experienced in Kolkata, mix up the chocolate sauce and coffee when preparing the Mocha and do not layer them. So while having it, it tastes more of a coffee flavored hot chocolate. But it’s not the case here. A proper layer of coffee and chocolate can be found, or at least I’ve found that on multiple occasions.
Overall, I am seriously in love with The Pit Stop Cafe in recent times, for a good cup of coffee. Regarding the food, I’ve rarely tasted it, so I’m not really in a position to comment on the same. But with the rising operating cost and the need for show-off, how long small places like this will be able to retain the quality, is a point of concern. But till the time, it’s there, cheers to the cup of strong coffee …