Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Coffee Chronicles - Part 1

Drip-Filter-Coffee Maker
Photo Courtesy: Eatomaniac
Anna, my father, knows how to cook. Not gourmet cook, not survival cook, but somewhere-in-the-middle cook.

Given Anna's love for coffee, obviously, Anna makes fabulous coffee. South Indian coffee, of course! The coffee he calls "Real Coffee" or "The Best Coffee".

From as early as I can recall, I remember hearing Anna in the kitchen early in the morning, making coffee. Anna, would wake up sometime between 4:30 am and 5:00 am in the morning. After saying his prayers, sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed, he would go to the kitchen to make coffee.

My mother, knowing what he would need, would have left a clean and dry drip-filter-coffee maker on the counter top. Anna would just have to load the top chamber with ground coffee, pat the powder down into a "gently packed" cake, place it on the bottom chamber, and pour hot water into the top chamber. While he waited for the coffee decoction to collect in the bottom chamber, he would go to the fridge and pull out a small vessel of milk and boil it. Simple, right? Well not so simple, if it is Anna.

Filter Coffee Decoction
Photo Courtesy: Lime 'n Mint
Three out of seven mornings a week, we would be woken to Anna's hushed-shoutout to my mother from the kitchen,"Saralaaaa, where is the ....". Sometimes it was the coffee powder that he could not find, sometimes the saucepan to heat the water and sometimes the milk.

We would all let out a collective groan.

My mother would respond in a sleepy-voiced hushed-shoutout, "Yane-ree, it's on the shelf / in the fridge / ..."

We got so used to this, that we would wake up at an un-Godly hour to hear Anna and Amma hush-shoutout on various coffee making paraphernalia, and then promptly fall back to sleep.

We were not allowed to drink coffee as children and hence were taught how to make coffee only in our late teenage-hood. We were instructed by Anna on the precise method to get the best coffee decoction - the right quantity of coffee powder to use, how to pat the coffee in the top chamber, the temperature of the water, how to pour water into the top chamber such that the water was clear and not clouded with coffee, etc.

Foaming Filter Coffee at
 Mavalli Tiffin Room, Bangalore
We were only allowed practice runs of making filter coffee. Anna was the one who would always make the coffee at home. Two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Even when Anna was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia, he continued to make filter coffee everyday. He stopped making filter coffee only after Amma died. I don't know why. It wasn't that he lost interest in drinking coffee. He still loves his coffee. Hot coffee. No matter what the ambient temperature is.

Could it be that one of us, his children, took over his early morning coffee making ritual without asking him if he wanted to give it up?

Could it be that our fear of him hurting himself or burning the house down, made us take it over earlier than necessary?

Could it be that he was not able to manage the physical precision that is needed to make coffee?

I don't know. And I probably will never get to know. Anna doesn't talk that much nowadays, for me to ask him. That time has passed.


  1. Lovely, Brings back sweet memories of childhood!

  2. True. As I wrote this I could almost hear my father's "Saralaaa..."

  3. So many of us across the world can relate to what you say. Lovely bitter sweet memories. Thank you so much for writing your blog. Each post that u write is a service to so many of us. Forever grateful....Sahar Zaman

  4. Thanks Sahar. Wishing you all the best with your dad too. All we can hope for is that they do not suffer.