Have you ever wondered why you can never get a decent cup of coffee in Delhi? You can scour restaurants, cafes, hotels and coffee bars, but a great cup of coffee is likely to elude you. There are a couple of restaurants where you are more or less assured of a certain level of quality but it’s worth figuring out the variables that go into the making of a cup of joe.
The first is the bean. Whether you have beans from a single estate, a speciality bean like Mysore Nugget Extra Bold (India’s most sought after robusta) or a blend for espresso with several different kinds of beans, all roasted separately and then ground together, the beans have to be as fresh as possible.
The second is the espresso machine, the Aeropress or the French press. You can no more put an espresso blend into a French press than you can a single plantation coffee into an espresso machine. If you are using an espresso machine, you have to set your grind each and every day and maintain your machine with precision.
And then, there’s the person behind the machine. In commercial establishments, there are usually more than five people a day handling one machine. Add attrition rates and you’ve lost the battle before it has begun.
However, there are three almost insurmountable problems. The staff who man the coffee machine do not have a taste for coffee and do their job with indifference. To them, it is inexplicable that anyone would willingly drink something as ‘bitter’ as espresso! The second is the fog of ignorance about the subject of coffee. The third is the pittance a restaurant earns from beverages like tea and coffee.