Bengaluru is a coffee-loving city, sure. But how much do people know about what’s in their cup? How much does the way it’s made impact its taste?
I spent an afternoon learning all this with Tapaswini Purnesh, a marketing head (fifth generation of her family in the coffee business) and a diploma holder from Le Cordon Bleu. In the cosy coffee-tasting room of their bright airy office, I was led through the making of three types of coffee with their quality specialist Shruti – the pourover, the popular French press and the zippy aeropress. The same coffee made via different methods yields distinctly different body and intensity. Their coffee estates in Chikmagalur’s Bababudan hills grows quality robusta (a strong bean giving creaminess and a fuller mouthfeel), as well as Arabica (known for its sweetness and acidity). The Classic Group’s robusta has been winning awards internationally at coffee fairs for years. Indeed, according to Tapaswini, “Indian robusta is one of the best in the world.” The family has a long-established wine retail business, and Tapaswini’s father, DM Purnesh points out the similarities between wine and coffee. “Many terms are similar; mouthfeel, aroma, body, acidity, aftertaste. We call acidity ‘brightness’ here, but it’s the same thing.”
I watch the precise timing and delicate handling of the pourover method. “It’s a calming, slow process,” says Tapaswini. “Being light-bodied, it’s an ideal after-lunch beverage: put on some music and brew yourself a cup.” Pourovers are doing big business in trendy bars and gourmet cafes worldwide where their charm and delicacy have caught on.
Are people savvier today about their coffee or does instant still rule the roost, I ask her. “For generations, we’ve drunk coffee a certain way, but few question where it’s from and how it’s made. Young people certainly know what they want and are ready to try coffee in its purest form, sans milk or sugar. It’s a great starting point.”
The meticulously made French press coffee is poured. Already, the aromas wafting upwards are stronger, the body fuller and darker: an ideal pick-me-up after a long day. Finally, she demonstrates the zippy aeropress, very new age in its look and feel. But its deep richness with its lush crema is a delight to the senses.
Classic, like many other local coffee growers, exports 90 per cent of its production, mostly to premium micro roasters in Europe and America. They are now looking to grow within India and its young generation of coffee drinkers. For starters, Tapaswini, who loves a good double espresso herself, plans to hold coffee brewing and tasting sessions to help educate and draw coffee fans into the fold. Her background in culinary learning helps her understand flavour profiles. A bonus: she does dessert pairings with coffee, too.
“People think it’s easier to make tea, but coffee has its own charm. The day of the coffee soirée isn’t far – call some friends home, brew good coffee and make it the centre of the conversation.”