Enough clutter. Enough confusion. Enough complications.

04 February 2012

South Indian Coffee

After 20,000+ miles and almost a month I find myself back in Nicaragua sitting, not surprisingly with a cup of coffee and my journal open in front of me. For the last seven years that has been one of the more constant fixtures in my life, and it is what I invariably turn back to when I need to relax and sort out my thoughts. The month of December and my vacation certainly left me with much to think over. I visited some friends in Virginia for a few glorious days. I spent New Year's Eve on my favorite block of my favorite beach. I was with my parents and my grandparents for Christmas, which I had spent the entire last year looking forward to. And I traveled to India for my older-brother's wedding. I've tried my hardest to sort through my feelings and find a good blog post: about the amazing wedding, about being back with family, or about how, no matter how much I love it, Nicaragua still isn't Virginia. As I've met with little success I'm going to stick to what I know.

I told my brother that I had to give him credit for at least one thing with respect to his wedding: always having a man whose job it was to make coffee. The wedding festivities lasted for a full two days and, despite not having much of a role to play in the ceremonies themselves, I did change outfits about six times, meet a million new people, take a thousand (literally) pictures. I'm not sure how it would have gone without my constant caffeine buzz. That's not true; it would have still been wonderful, but I do prefer coffee to be a part of any social activity.

My South Indian coffee experience started just a few hours after touching down in Chennai. My plane arrived in the middle of the night and I was driven outside the city to the farmhouse where my family was staying until the wedding. After a few hours sleep I was awoken, not unpleasantly, by the man who was in charge of our stay knocking on my parents' door saying, cheerfully but authoritatively, “Morning! Coffee?! Tea?!” It was a scene that would be repeated daily and that would continue when we moved into the city. I don't usually enjoy being woken up, but you can wake me up whenever you want if you do it by offering me good coffee.

South Indian coffee is somewhat akin to a latte or café au lait in that its principally a combination of milk and some form of coffee (it is often called “milk coffee” so I guess that isn't surprising). Rather than espresso or brew coffee however, the coffee element in South Indian coffee is a a cooked-down, syrup-like concoction. A small amount of the coffee syrup is then combined with sugar and hot milk in one half of a metal tumbler set. The mixture is then poured back and forth between the two tumblers, preferably from a bit of a height, to thoroughly combine the elements and also to aerate the mixture. I, of course, had o shoot a video of the process:

The result is quite delicious. By the time the wedding was over the coffee man knew that I preferred mine without sugar, a characteristic that earned me the same weird looks I get here in Nicaragua when I tell people I don't use sugar in my coffee. Even so, the coffee guy gets my wedding MVP nomination.


  1. The wedding pictures are beautiful--so bright and colorful! PS, I don't like sugar in my coffee either, although I do prefer copious amounts of milk or cream, whichever is readily available.

  2. Thanks! I was a wonderful place to take pictures. Shoot me an email so we can catch up. It's been awhile (again)!