The tea country

You want to drink proper coffee in India? Well, good luck. Even though Starbucks entered the market about a year ago and India has it’s own coffee chain, Café Coffee Day, the subcontinent remains a country of tea drinkers (fair enough, it’s also the world’s largest tea-producing country).

And by tea, I mean this oversweet, strong, milky fluid that is poured from aluminium pots into small plastic cups at every filthy street corner.

The coffeehouse experience on the other hand is possible at more than 1500 places in India, mostly limited to shopping malls, upscale promenades, main tourist attractions (I found one inside the walls of 400 year old Amber Fort!) and airports.

Ah, and talking about “experience”: Don’t expect 1) to get your takeaway coffee in less than 10 minutes, 2) to have any of the many staff members to pay attention to you as a customer, if you are not shouting at them, 3) the cashier to have any change at all. But, expect 1) your brownie/muffin/cake to be heated up in a microwave, 2) get everything packed and wrapped three times and placed in huge boxes or bags for takeaway, with plenty of ketchup/mustard/sauce/, 3) have someone sweeping the floor around you all the time.

coffee loungeSo, if Indians talk about coffee, they mean instant coffee. Always. At the Jaipur Literature Festival, I found a set-up coffee “lounge”, complete with a wooden bar, fancy quotes on the wall, real chairs (no plastic!), and a menu, titled “Enjoy the world’s best coffees”, that listed five different varieties. It turned out: All coffee served there was instant coffee.

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