One morning, Tuhin Jain woke up and smelled the coffee, literally. The guy with a cushy job at a leading beverage multinational decided it was time to quit to help Indian coffee lovers get a better cup of coffee. Right in their homes, minus the brew time, the fuss or mess. In fact, very much like that famous N-word coffee machine, which produces perfect golden crema-topped espresso at the touch of a button and pop of a capsule. As a mighty big fan of said N-word machine myself, I know the pleasure a perfect cup of coffee gives.
So Jain and his partner Kunal Bhagat began experimenting with coffee beans, flavours and brewing styles. Soon, they had a machine designed, with eight capsules of different coffee blends to go with it and a name to match — Bonhomia. Pilot launches done, the coffee machine was sold at top gourmet food stores around the country, even online. As we are a tea-drinking land, Jain also added tea capsules — a green tea and an English breakfast made of whole leaves (no tea dust-filled teabags) — to the range, with a Darjeeling to follow. Quality is top notch, he affirms, and prices are far more India-friendly than other high-end machines.
Sipping a cup of his coffee straight from the machine, golden crema-topped as promised, I asked Jain what he has figured about Indian coffee drinkers over the years.
“Indians have preferred milky variants,” he acknowledged, “So it’s not been easy to tell how good or bad the coffee really was. Now with a growing culture of espresso drinking, we are learning fast.” Though coffee has been around for ages, coffee culture developed much earlier abroad — remember Friends and their endless cups of coffee at Central Perk? “Cafés always offered quality barista-made coffee, and that’s helped grow the coffee culture aboard — in cafés and with takeaway. While India grows high-standard coffee, we lack the name of Colombian or Brazilian coffee, though ours is good, and getting much better.” It helps now that Indians are travelling, tasting the good stuff, and are willing to spend to get it. And modern coffee lovers want it fast and clean so a machine works wonders, he adds.
A quick lesson on coffee followed: “A good coffee should have rich overtones — fruity, woody or spicy aromas. When brewed it should have a golden crema on top which denotes quality and freshness, and a creamy aftertaste. Treat your coffee with love, don’t scald it with boiling water.”
Some trends: true blue coffee lovers are fussy about their morning cuppa, which sets the mood for the day, and are ready to try new flavours (hazelnut, vanilla) later on. “So many people are opting for a coffee in place of a dessert when they dine out.” Finally, “drinking coffee is sociable, at the end of the day. It’s about bonhomie. There might be a science to it but finally it’s a social drink.”
I’ll raise my chocolate macchiato to that.