The Splendour of coffee

The full spectrum of the tones and flavors that a human palate could possibly perceive and identify in the world of coffee is infinite. Despite being adeptly diverse in it’s scope of being a crop, the same coffee, same roast profile, same grade or even same preparation may or may not be palatable to two different individuals. But the splendor of coffee is it’s ability to metamorphose into the flavor, taste or preparation desired in the cup. The diversity in flavors that coffee offers can only be appraised in the culinary world by exploring the balancing act that coffee can exhibit when paired with an array of food or even used as an ingredient. 

It is imperative to understand coffee as a crop before the attempt to understand it or even classify it only as a beverage. Coffee is a crop that has evolved with the evolution of societies and palates. An invaluable boon,  impregnated with raw uninhibited potential. This complex biological being takes nine months to develop into the ripe flavorful red cherry, ready to be carefully hand picked from the coffee plant. Which also marks the prerequisite to the first stage of choice that the crop offers i.e the processing of these cherries which plays a vital role in deciding the flavor profiles and the personality that the coffee manifests in the cup. 

A well nurtured washed coffee will offer a great acidity and heightened flavors and tones in the cup with a medium body as a result of the fermentation of the coffee bean in the process. Wet processed coffees require the coffees to have absorbed enough natural sugars and nutrients in the entire growing cycle to be able to manifest into the clean flavors and heightened tones in the cup, which is why most speciality coffees are wet processed. Also the wet processing of coffees is a reflection of the craftsmanship of the coffee farmer and his or her value addition to the desired profile of a particular cultivated coffee. 

On the contrary however a dry processed/sun dried coffee has an entirely different experience to offer. Where the coffee bean depends on the outer cherry of the fruit for its flavor profiles. Sun dried coffees as a result absorb the flavors from the fruit covering the coffee beans, imparting fruity notes to  these coffees, with a well rounded acidity and a great body as compared to a wet processed coffee. 

Coffees growing on the Indian sub continent are exclusive in being entirely shade grown and hand picked, cultivated alongside an array of spices that define the flavor and food of the land. The soil that harbors the multiplicity of these flavor intensive crops also in turn becomes richer.  This crop rotation does not only help the soil to develop its own unique characteristics over the years of cultivation, but also helps the farmers to be able to pursue more sustainable farming practices 

Despite the method with which a particular coffee is processed, a major value addition to the taste of brewed coffee can be traced back to how it was roasted. Acidity, body, flavor and aroma are characteristics of coffee that can be toyed with while roasting to articulately craft a preferable tone in the cup. It is at this stage that clear flavor tones and aromas develop in the coffee. A well roasted coffee can be understood as the self expression of it’s innate personality in as delectable a way as possible. While a light roasted or blonde coffee will offer great acidity and bite in the cup, a medium or dark roasted coffee will offer a much better body with a pleasant or low acidity in a hot brew. 

The complexity of the crop itself empowers it with the possibilities of donning different roles. As an ingredient, ground coffee and spice rubs for instance prove as a flavor rich rub for protein starring dishes like a rack of lamb, a well done steak or even pork tenderloins. The ground coffee in the rub adds a depth and spunk to the dish and introduces latent bitter undertones that contribute in a subtle flavor to the entirety of the savory dish whether roasted or grilled.  

When we pair food with any drink, it is categorically important that the beverage adds to the dish it is being paired with, either by balancing out flavors in the dish or by adding to them. In the context of coffee however, the ace in the hole is the choices one can exercise in deciding the permutations and combinations to reach a desired flavor in any particular coffee that would compliment the food it is being paired with. 

Pairing coffees with food could be branched into pairing with respect to the region and pairing with respect to palate. For instance currently on our menu, a cold brewed coffee which is less acidic and has a smoother mouth feel, with a bold taste of coffee and a natural sweetness pairs refreshingly with lemon and egg canapés. Cold brewed coffees also pair very well with fruit salads. While a high on acidity, light roasted coffee in espresso based hot brews can be paired with either the decadence of sweet cakes or with savory dessert dishes like lemon tarts. We are pairing them at our coffee bar with queen’s short cakes with blueberry and cream cheese frosting. A medium to dark roasted coffee can offer a great body and mouthfeel with a medium to low acidity and a good body. An iced latte with this dark roasted coffee would pair well with grilled or roasted chicken dishes, and could also be used as a flavor enhancer in the chicken marinade. 

Pairing coffee by region inevitably traces back to the passing down of rich culinary traditions and cultures to subsequent generations. The chicory blended with the coffee in the filter coffee adds strength and body to the coffee and owing to the preparation in a traditional coffee filter the viscosity of the brew is a delightful creamy texture when prepared with milk and served as a hot and frothy cup of stimulation. A filter coffee is the perfect way to end a south Indian meal. Whether it be a light south Indian, Udipi dish like a warm crisp masala dosa, or more densely flavored dishes closer to the coast lines of souther India like chicken chettinad, beef curry or a Malabari mutton curry. In our journey to discover coffee we have been fortunate enough to have explored other boons of the regions we source our coffees from. We have had the pleasure of pairing our filter coffee and cold brewed coffees with coastal preparations by chef Arun Kumar. Entrées at this pairing included some exquisite dishes like Andhra Kosta Salan, Velliapatti Fish Curry and Chettinad Korma. While appetizers like keerai vada, Kerala fish fry and potato roast were aptly complimented with rich creamy hot filter coffee. Leaving us even more fascinated with the journey of this crop and the sheer scope of it being paired with a wide variety of dishes in its multifaceted personalities. 

The distinctive attributes of a coffee growing region and the unique character additions of the soil in which these coffees grow, can be elucidated in the taste profiles of the coffees by roasting them artfully and articulately to extract the tones that they have been grown and nurtured to illustrate in the brew. An individual’s palate is comprised of the subtle, nuanced and the artless food experiences of one’s entire lifetime. When tasting coffees, a taster will be able to discern newer tones only relative to the exposure and experience of his or her own palate. Which is why coffee tasting could also be synonymous with acquainting yourself with your own palate.

What coffee shares with alcohol beverages like a well aged wine or a fine single malt is that it is as nuanced and unique in its own natural flavor despite being a crop. However going a step further, our experiments gave us fascinating results upon infusing coffee in a single malt whisky/aged bourbon or a dark rum. Not only does the coffee have a new shelf life conceptually but it also elegantly multiplies in flavor tones. When infused with a bourbon for example, the coffee that will give wonderful infusion notes will be darker roasted, less bitter coffees which will compliment the natural sweet tones in a bourbon, eventually also exhibiting hints of caramelized tones in the bourbon. Cold Brewed Coffee are what we like to pair and brew with dark rum. The brewed results must be served straight on ice to assimilate all flavor tones of the aged rum and the brewed coffee. 

To say the very least, as coffee-preneurs we strongly feel that coffee still has not received the due credit it deserves as an agricultural product that offers a world of flavors and that we domestically cultivate. Baba’s Beans Coffee Bar at Vivanta by Taj, Ambassador is an extension of our discoveries with Indian coffees. Where we are crafting crop to cup experiences in the cup in our own interpretations to demonstrate what a charmer coffee can be. 

Our entrepreneurial venture in the coffee sector embodies simultaneously our passion for coffee and our undying urge to induce our target market to assimilate and develop the taste for this theatrical experience for the senses. Where ‘Theatrical’ in the experience is expounded by the animation that our blends stir up, igniting the minds of coffee drinkers.  

If your palate is adventurous enough to get intimate with the charms of the gallant and intoxicating coffees grown on their mother land, we are here and suited up to serve to you a world of options @Baba’s Beans Coffee Bar crafted by us, brewed with love and infused with spices. Boosting efficiency and dopamine levels across masses, spreading the joy.

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3 comments on “The Splendour of coffee

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