In my 29 years of existence, I have not yet mastered the art (rather, mustered the strength) of waking up without coffee – while mothers all over the world would shake their heads in disapproval that a child would grow up drinking coffee, in my family (and many others in India), it isn’t that big a crime.
Heads-up! A storm of personal stories coming up. If you are here just for the coffee and don’t care about my stupid stories, jump over to the next section! I won’t judge you. 🙂
It was my grandmother who got me addicted to coffee, and my mother had to continue the addiction, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain, so you wouldn’t chastise the two most wonderful women who raised me. My grandmother got me used to the ‘second decoction’ coffee – the second extraction from the morning’s coffee grounds – slightly weaker, yet it can still be called coffee. On Saturday mornings, after my parents went to work, she’d make me and her a cup of ‘second‘ coffee to drink during her story telling time – a ritualistic activity that I would soon come to associate Saturdays with. Until lunch time, she would regale me and my brother with stories from her Burmese childhood – part real, part surreal and totally fascinating! From the White elephant that belonged to the Burmese princess to the giant mysterious serpent that lived in her basement, her stories, despite being recycled over and over again were as interesting as it was when I first heard them.
With my mother, I had a different coffee story – I hated milk and all milk products growing up (from white chocolate, milk sweets , yogurt to ghee – I hated it all!). The only way she could get me to drink my daily cup of milk was by tainting it with a few drops of coffee decoction to mask the dairy smell. You could hardly call what she gave me coffee – at best it was a highly diluted form of a latté – but she sneaked it in when I was most vulnerable: pre-waking up in the mornings, and I hardly knew the difference. She would sit next to me, half-lift me to lie on her shoulders and feed me her fake-coffee (99.99% milk + 2 drops of actual coffee). And that was my morning wake-up scene for as long as I can remember. And I am totally abashed to admit, that whenever I go home to stay with my mom, I still let her wake me up like this, but with proper coffee, now that I am all grown up 😛
These are my fondest coffee memories and while I’m sure most of you are still passing judgement and rolling your eyes at a grown woman being fed bed coffee by her mother, this morning ritual is absolutely precious to me! Because it keeps me feeling like her little baby girl, and I’m gonna bask in that revelation for as long as I can afford to.
South Indian Filter coffee
The second hardest part of moving out of my parent’s house was the morning coffee privileges – I had to wake up and make my own coffee. (Wow, I must sound so spoilt to you right now!). Traditionally, Southern Indians (me) drink ‘Filter Coffee’ – a very concentrated drip coffee (called ‘decoction’). Coffee powder and hot water are added to the top chamber (see image above) – the natural pressure from the heat keeps the liquid in the top chamber for a very long time before it percolates out through the micro-pores into the collection chamber below. While it takes a bit longer to brew than a groggy morning-me cares to wait, it provides a very intense dose of caffeine that kick starts you into awakening.
The extract is very concentrated – like a thick espresso rather than regular coffee, and is mixed with hot, frothy milk in a 3 (milk) : 1 (coffee decoction) ratio. That’s right – and despite the low amount of decoction, the final cup of coffee is still a very intense shot of caffeine!
9 tsp roast & ground coffee powder + 1 cup (250 ml) water should yield 3/4 cup of thick, coffee decoction. In BUNN, the brewing process took about 3 minutes and 30 seconds!
To make 1 cup (250 ml) of Filter Coffee – mix 1/4 cup of decoction to 3/4 cup of hot, full-fat milk.
For the authentic froth, pour the coffee back and forth between two cups to aerate the coffee – this highly enhances the flavour. Sit back and enjoy your Southern Indian brew!
My coffee tastes have highly improved and refined over the years past my teens – I now like my filter coffee freshly brewed, dark, rich and creamy brown with that classic hint of sweet-bitterness!
But since I began using BUNN, I’ve been awakened to a new level of coffee bliss this week – my newly born inner Barista is squealing in joy! ! Here are 4 ways in which BUNN has improved my usual ‘Filter coffee’ experience:
#1. Perfect Brew
Did you know that the optimum coffee brewing temperature should be 90.6°C – 96.1°C (195°F – 205°F). I did NOT know that until I discovered BUNN! All those times I let the water boil for 10 minutes before scorching my coffee powder – my heart aches at the number of cups I’ve ruined this way!
BUNN releases water into the percolation chamber only after the water reaches the optimum brewing temperature (200°F) – perfect brew, every single time! I truly can ‘taste’ the difference in my coffee – it’s more professional and perfect! No wonder that it is ONE OF ONLY 10 coffee makers to meet the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) standards! I’m officially impressed!
What’s more important: I get to drink my favourite Southern Indian brew every morning with so much less work! And BUNN’s 10 cup capacity makes sure that when I have friends and family over, everyone has coffee to go around – something I cannot do with a traditional Indian coffee filter!
#2. No more spills!
So every morning when I pour decoction from the traditional coffee filter to my cup, the last few drops always find their way down the side of the coffee filter – forget the mess, I hold coffee in very high reverence and hate that a few precious drops are wasted each morning!
Even when I tried other electronic coffee makers, the spill just could not be avoided – there’s always that one last drop that hangs at the lip and finds a way to spill on the most expensive item on the table (usually my phone!)
Thanks to the unique design of BUNN’s drip-free carafe, that last sneaky drop is ‘sucked‘ back to where it belongs! Perfect!
Woo hoo! I fill the coffee grounds and water before I go to bed and wake up to a house that smells like hot coffee every morning! Unlike other kitchen gadgets that come with a clock (I’m looking at you, oven – grrr!), this one is infinitely more easier to handle!
#4. Cleaning indicator
You know how they say you should desalinate your coffee maker every 3 months? Ya, I never keep track of it and now I don’t have to! BUNN lets me know when it’s time to clean by indicating ‘CLEAN’ on its display! Bless your electronic circuits, BUNN! My inner OCD-girl is thrilled!
Go get BUNN!
Don’t believe me? Check out BUNN for yourself! And once you’ve fallen in love, go get yours – now available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma – in-store, online and through their catalog. The word ‘exclusive‘ pleases me! Makes me feel like I’m in a secret, elite, coffee club! Besides, look at that design – that free-hanging funnel looks super cool, don’t you think? If you have an awesome backsplash in your kitchen, show it off with BUNN!
Instant Coffee vs Freshly Brewed Coffee
Now that I’ve got your attention with coffee, let me also talk about the difference between Instant Coffee and Regular brewed coffee. If you already know the answer, accept a respectful tip of my hat (unless you’re an instant coffee person) and go on your way. For the rest of you who have doubts, or who have asked me the exact same question, read on!
Freshly Brewed coffee…
is made from roast & ground coffee beans – the roasting develops the characteristic flavour and aroma and the degree of fineness in grinding determines the amount of surface area exposed to the hot water and hence, the strength of your coffee. Some people buy freshly roasted coffee beans in small batches (when it’s at the peak of its flavour), grind just what they need every morning to brew their coffee. For a coffee aficionado, this is the purest form of the coffee experience – from bean to cup, every morning!
Those of us (like me!) who still love their morning cup, but cannot go through the head-splitting grinding process in the morning, we buy roast and ground coffee powder. And we brew our morning cup from it. Same bean. Same roasting. But the coffee is ground at the factory.
on the other hand is made by freeze-drying coffee extracted by the above process – it’s just liquid coffee that was processed and turned to a much more portable form. It’s also the reason why instant coffee, when stored improperly or left open for extended periods of time starts turning sticky and mushy – it’s just absorbing moisture from the air and turning back to its natural state – liquid.
The drying process affects the flavour and aroma of the final product, a reason why coffee puritans religiously stay away from this brew. It’s also the reason why even someone who doesn’t like regular coffee can stand a cup of instant coffee. Instant coffee contains less fat than freshly brewed coffee and half the caffeine and hence is considered by most to be ‘healthier’!
But at what cost people?! The fat from the coffee bean can be prevented from seeping into your freshly brewed cup of coffee by using coffee filters or a thin muslin cloth and the caffeine – well, that’s why I drink the coffee in the first place! I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to get it, thank you very much, instant coffee drinkers! :-/
What’s your coffee preference?
So there you go – a small glimpse into my morning routine, my coffee history and my new best friend, BUNN! What does your morning look like? I’d love to know your coffee habits and preferences. Like with eggs, I know everyone has a particular coffee preference!