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A Coffee Break with Rushina Ghildiyal and Cafe Coffee Day

July 21, 2014

I’m not a coffee drinker – or a tea drinker for that matter. But, as a food writer and blogger, it has become increasingly important for me to widen my horizons and taste buds and try out things I’d not have tried earlier. So, when Rushina M. Ghildiyal (you know her from here and here) invited me to attend the CCDSquareUp event co-organised by APB CookStudio at The Square, I decided that this was the chance to understand more about coffee.

The Square is a premium brand by the Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Company Ltd. who are the second largest owners of coffee estates across India and run the Cafe Coffee Day and The Square chains across the country. And at the event, they were promoting their Single Origin Coffees. Now, single origin coffees, as the Senior Manager-Beverage Innovation, Café Coffee Day, Rhicha Sinha, explained to us, is coffee that has been grown in and procured from a single geographic area and no other. That day, we would be tasting four single-origin coffees, of which 3 were Indian coffees from the company’s own coffee estates. We tasted the Ethiopian Sidamo, Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold, Indian KathleKhan Superior and the Rajgiri Pearl. Each coffee shot was paired by Rushina with a delicious snack to complement the flavours of the coffee bean.

Ethiopian Sidamo: This coffee comes from, well, the Sidamo region in Ethiopia. It is a small, greyish bean with a chocolatey and almost fruity flavour. While, frankly, I didn’t get the hints of the fruit or chocolate, I did find the texture of its decoction rather dense and very bitter. I also learned that the best way to sip coffee is through your front teeth to extract maximum flavour from the drink. The Sidamo was paired with Mexican Red Hot Nachos, which seemed to go really well with the drink.

Mysore Nuggets Extra Bold: These nuggets are called extra bold because of their sheer size, which is almost as big as gold nuggets. This was brewed in a French press right in front of us. The trick is to ensure that the decoction is allowed to rest for 3-4 minutes before pressing it. Compared to the Sidamo, I found this coffee much lighter in density and taste. It did have a slightly nutty and acidic hint to it, which was easily smoothed out by the chocolate cookie with whipped cream that it was paired with.

Indian Kathlekhan Superior: So this coffee has a story behind it. Don’t you just love stories! The Indian Kathlekhan is believed to be from one of the seven seeds that Baba Budan – the Sufi saint who is believed to have introduced coffee to India – sowed when he settled down in the Bababudangiri mountains in Karnataka. This coffee is said to have a hint of caramel in its flavour. This was my favourite, probably owing to the fact that it was the most subtle of the coffees that we had tasted. The feel of it on my palate was smooth, and it went perfectly with the Choco Fudge Fantasy that was paired with it.

Rajgiri Pearl: The Rajgiri pearl was again brewed using the French press.It has a hint of the spices that are grown in the same region as it is at the peak of the Bababudangiri mountains. But, I found it to be rather dense, and very very bitter and acidic – definitely not a favourite with me! It was complemented well, though, by the pizza margherita, of which I had two just to neutralise the flavour of the coffee!

Needless to say, my favourite of the whole experience was the Indian Kathlekhan, then the Mysore Nuggets, Ethopian Sidamo and finally the Rajgiri Pearl.

The focus then moved on from the coffees to Rushina who demonstrated a rich, dark and delicious Coffee Barbecue Sauce that can accompany meats and dishes of all sorts. The evening came to an end with some paparazzi in the form of the Food Food Channel people and loads of conversation with my fellow food bloggers and writers.

By the end of the evening, I was glad that I was part of it. Not only did I taste coffee, but for me, it was an induction into the world of coffee – its brewing techniques, how flavours change with the brewing technique employed, single origin and blended coffees and pairing. And, I must say it was a refreshing change from just food.

I came home with a load of Indian Kathlekhan – not sure what to do with it, yet – a jar of Rushina’s coffee-spiced nuts and a French Press! More on that later. In the meanwhile, do go and try out the coffees at The Square in its various outlets across the country. Let me know how you liked it.

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