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Cool Hangouts

How do I choose my coffee shop? It is a very vague but a very interesting question to be asked of any coffee lover. For a person’s choice of a coffee shop will not just tell you about the nature and personality of a person but also give you a deep insight into his/ her cultural background. Yes a simple cup of coffee can do that for you and much more.

“Ho shuru har din aise, ho shuru har pal aise- Nescafe”. (TV commercial Ad In Hindi)

Every waking moment and every day should be started with a positive mind and positive attitude, which can only be attained by drinking a mug of your much loved coffee Nescafe, read the jingle of my favourite instant coffee ad. How much I identified with the free spirit and the message behind this simple but classic communication.

As a kid I have grown up to the taste and aroma of coffee beans, not that I have worked in a coffee plantation. But having stayed in a locality called Matunga in Mumbai, India, that was specializing in Madras filter coffee, one just could not help but fall in love with its unique and one of a kind fragrance. Madras filter coffee or Kapi is a brand on its own, few may recognize it as Drip coffee others may call it sweet milky coffee made out of dark roasted beans. Whatever be the name, how much ever measured the caffeine, I simply loved my cuppa.

At home it was instant coffee and outside was dabrah’ or filter kapi. Life was sweet and simple till we (in India) got introduced to the coffee shop culture. Barista and Caf Coffee Day shops mushroomed everywhere (Starbucks then was still an International scene). Where Barista adhered to the rich and expensive, Caf Coffee day was more collegian, but both offered space and a concept of a cool hangout. Now we had a hub where like minds and similar tastes interacted but at the same time one could enhance his / her individuality.

Latte, Cappuchino, mochachito, espresso, iced frappe, were some of the common preferences, add-ons and flavors like cinnamon, vanilla essence, double shot chocolate added the needed twist and character to the mug. Well, in the end how you like your coffee discreetly described your personality traits, be it strong, spicy, mild or sweet.

Whereas the shop was concerned, then, it always had a purpose, which was to provide you with an environment best suited to your needs. A coffee shop next to your office was more in demand if it had wi-fi connection and a more formal outlook for business meetings or informal presentations. On the other hand coffee shops open to entertainment were more chilled out and relaxed with sofas and games thrown in for your comfort. These places lured you with hubbly-bubbly(hukkas), movies and books on demand, brand identities like tees, mugs, caps and lotsa cool stuff.

With these shops, now, coffee had a new meaning, people visiting them were forming a cult of their own. Watching people carry their branded cups to the office was no more just a scene from an international film depicting New York lifestyle. For some it had become their daily routine, an identity of sorts which screamed I belong to the West. Whereas people deeply rooted to their soil and culture still preferred filter, or a Nescafe, from their local Irani/ tapri ( ie local cafe where the truck or bus drivers would stop) or best at home.

Having traveled abroad quite a bit and now living in Australia, what I understand of coffee shops out here is that they are either a distinguished place, a cafe round the corner to grab a quick delicious meal with variety of platters on the menu, where you can experience a pot-pourri of cultures in your mug, or Jeans, Koko black, Coffee House, Starbucks, etc that have a long list of loyal customers. Coffee shops abroad is not for identity creation compared to those in India but a part of living where individual taste rules the choice made.

In the end all I would like to conclude with is that coffee, no matter where it is served and how it is presented, if it gives a deep insight into the true culture and place of belonging, then it is a cuppa well brewed.