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. But then Roastery opened up its branch inside the South Indian club, Gariahat. 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.
Roastery Coffee house
Kolkata always had a thing or two for good tea. But honestly, coffee, except for the intellectual class until recently, didn’t somehow get its due popularity. though India Coffee House was there, it was one CCD which somehow opened up in every nook and corner of the city with its multiple branches and comfortable air controlled sitting. And slowly but steadily, the average Kolkattan got to know about the terms like Cappuccino/ Mocha, etc. But coffee shops dedicated to coffee and specialty coffee beans were still a rare sight. And when I came to know about Roastery, the coffee shop chain from Hyderabad, opening in Kolkata, how could I not go?
That checkered flooring of south Indian Club
One of Kolkata’s oldest south Indian associations is Calcutta South India Club. It was founded in 1926 and Dr C V Raman was the first president here. They used to have a canteen until probably last year run by one nice Tamil couple. While the lady was ever active to sell her home-made murukku and some other stuff, the gentleman used to run this place. somehow they couldn’t run this place profitably enough and now Roastery has taken over this place. contrary to the new-age all-AC-ed coffee shops, it has a beautiful open space with checkered tiles and iron sitting arrangement. And I guess, it’ll be simply awesome during the evening time.
As I said, coffee is of utmost importance here. And Roastery has got a serious variety- coffee beans/ methods- you name it and they, in all probability, will have it. So, our first order was a pour over coffee. Please do not get me wrong. I do not know much about these variations and I know that I do not know. But the person, who took me there, is a knowledgable person and I went by his suggestion.
Pour over coffee is one of the most basic forms. A slow steady stream of hot water is poured over (in a circular motion) the coffee beans and a filter is used. That’s it. A full-bodied coffee is there in your cup. And the Barista Mr. Sumit was patient enough to answer my stupid questions on this. Lightly roasted honey sun-dried beans were used in this case. Once water is poured, I saw some bubbling inside and was stupid enough to ask. Supposedly, it’s called a Blooming process and if it doesn’t take place, there is some issue with the coffee. They’ve employed some seriously good manpower at Roastery, and the training is damn good.
Cascara coffee and Nitro Brew
Next order for us was the Cascara coffee. From coffee cherries, the coffee skin is washed and dried. The caffeine level is much lower and supposedly it contains antioxidants. Well, I learned all these things from the menu-book given at Roastery. But what I could figure out, is the moist smell. We chose the Malabar coffee beans and it was an apt choice.
Nitro Brew coffee or Cold NCB is a fusion. Cold coffee is charged with nitrogen to have a frothy head and a really smooth finish. In this hot sultry summer, I was looking for some chilled coffee and this seemed a good option. Imagine a chilled drink- with no milk or sugar – which is thick and smooth and containing only coffee- that, my woman, Nitro Brew Coffee for you. At Roastery, they made some good stuff. The price was pretty steep, but considering the infrastructure needed to make it, it was okay.
For food now
Rarely any good coffee shop has good food and Roastery managed to keep the tradition alive. Or rather I should say, it was a mixed experience. We’ve ordered for the sausage stuffed baked chicken breast. Now, while the chicken breast was evenly mashed and shaped, there was a bland chicken sausage inside. And a hearty sprinkling of oregano couldn’t really save it. The Zucchini Fry at Roastery, on the other hand, was brilliant. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have thought that I’d say this. But, this batter-fried vegetable fingers, with a generous sprinkling of red chilly powder (or was it Peri Peri ???) and Madras Curry Powder (probably) made it interesting and hot. Our third order was Mushroom Briosche. and even it was pretty decent.
Overall, it was a great coffee experience. For serious coffee lovers, or for someone who wants to taste good properly made coffee, Roastery is definitely THE place in Kolkata now. But I’ve got one suggestion for the management. The coffee has the right mix of beans and the body is properly made. If Roastery management can serve the coffee in transparent cups, at least for a few of the varieties, it’ll be a visual pleasure. But when I met the owner, Nishat the other day, he had an answer for this. And please check the video below to understand this.
I went with my friend Kaniska da and he didn’t allow me to see the meal, leave apart clicking it. So, no bill photo this time.
Bon apetit !!!
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