When moving from one city to another there are some very obvious changes expected. The weather, the people, the language, and even the food. One prepares for all these changes well in advance, because you’ve heard so many stories and you obsessively check the weather updates on your phone. It’s not the biggest challenge either, you want to move to this new city and have some pretty epic adventures.
Food is not the same as it is for your grandparents, when they travel they have a hard time adjusting to the onslaught of changes. But our generation is better equipped; we eat almost everything thanks to the numerous hotels in every city. And bless the people who came up with instant food, those packets have been opened to solve homesickness more than once.
The unexpected and worst thing moving from South India to North India is the utter lack of good coffee. Please, instant coffee is NOT coffee, it’s merely a cheap imitation of the heavenly drink that is filter coffee.
So like any naïve person, you attempt to prepare yourself. You imagine yourself to be like those initial coffee drinkers in Mughal India, who had to struggle quite a bit.
Buy the smallest coffee filter and your weight in coffee powder. But it’s not enough, it’s never enough. The consumption rate is always higher than the number of times you travel back home. Added to the trauma is your new found fame as a good coffee maker, everyone wants a slice of your heaven now. But you don’t enough for all of them!
This is when the suggestions drop in. “Why don’t you try ‘some expensive brand of coffee?”
“Why don’t you just buy ‘instant coffee brand name’?”
“The coffee at random overpriced south Indian restaurant is REALLY good!”
Yes, but it is just not the same.
Now, every coffee drinker understands that coffee comes with its own tainted history of colonialism and caste dynamics. But that does not stop you from being a coffee snob.
Coffee isn’t just about the taste. It’s about that smell, that rich aroma of happiness that emanates from the coffee filter when you pour hot water over the perfectly powdered mix of coffee and chicory. Coffee is about the right amount of sugar that gives you a hint of the bitter that is quickly masked by the sweet sugar.
Coffee is that sense of home, of those rare days when your mother gives you coffee in bed because she wants to pamper you. It’s the smell of stale coffee from the cups that gather on the dining table because your grandparents are as addicted to this slice of heaven as you are. Coffee is that slightly burnt tongue because you had no time but still had to gulp down that first cup of delicious elixir in the morning.
Coffee is a slice of home, that brown concoction in a small cup that you hold on to tightly because it keeps you constant in the changes that are inevitable as one moves from home onto greener pastures.