Coffee expert Sahid Khan busts myths about the beverage and here is what you need to know
What looks like a dull, ordinary edifice on the outside, surprises us with plush, green views peeking through the windows when inside. We’re in Guindy, in the midst of a massive room with the kinds of coffee-making equipment, tools and flavours that could keep you up for days — a veritable coffee lover’s paradise we find out soon enough.
This is the training centre of Italy’s largest coffee company, the Lavazza Group, which opened doors in 2016; and is led by coffee connoisseur Sahid Khan. The Training Manager has worked extensively in the coffee industry for over 12 years and calls Pune his home.
A few cups of strong espressos and some interesting conversation later, we were caffeinated enough to be bouncing off the walls through the rest of the session. Sahid took us on a gastronomical journey and went all mad scientist on us with a rather unique treat: Coffee Caviar. The dessert which has been popping up on Instagram is made with a piece of equipment called the ‘Imperial Sphericator’ and is just the perfect way to liven up your desserts and taste buds, with small, edible balls of espresso and sugar syrup.
It’s a delight that is surprisingly similar to bar-tending, where he picks up a cocktail shaker, lines a martini glass with cinnamon and sugar and reinvents a classic cold brew coffee. “A coffee-tail,” he calls it, a fun take on a classic mocktail — is made with amarena cherries and cold-brew coffee. “Fruity flavours go well with cold-brews since they have no oil and are not very acidic.” The cinnamon lining made the sweet cherry coffee a more complex and luxurious experience.
What’s the deal with decaffeination? The process, Sahid informs us, which is actually illegal in the country — includes the coffee beans being soaked in ethyl alcohol. It is then cleaned so it’s safe to consume. “The chemical process is actually a little harmful for your body. We don’t consume so much coffee in India where decaffeination would be helpful, or something one would want to put their bodies through.”
So where does India fall on the map of coffee-brewing and drinking? “While coffee-drinking is increasing by six to seven per cent, we don’t have the brewing culture to match,” Sahid informs. The Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, which offers certification courses and monitors speciality coffees is largely across Europe and other parts of the world; but does not make an appearance here.
So how different are our habits? Sahid laughs, and says, “Europeans like their coffee dark with a splash of milk on the side. Indians like milk with a splash of coffee in it!” As if to really drive this point home, a cup of cappuccino makes its way towards us. We’re greeted with delicate aromas of coffee mixed with vanilla, which was a delight to our palate.
More banter about the curse of instant coffee; and several cups of brew later, we are finally ready to leave. Still on an uncontrollable caffeine-rush, Sahid leaves us with an endearing thought. “Drink better coffee, drink pure coffee!