For those who know me well, I’m a bit of a stubborn mule when it comes to my coffee. My undying love and devotion to the traditional South Indian coffee doesn’t allow me to appreciate the other flavours available. Putting a dent in that armour, are the folks from the Classic Group. Building on five generations of coffee growers, the group are trying to spread awareness about the intricacies of coffee and how it’s a lot more than the morning cup we have at a local eatery.
I was invited a couple of weeks ago to the groups office in Bangalore, where they have a slightly intimidating chemistry lab like setup, to understand some of the different styles of coffee, the different flavours and the aromas, as well as what food could be paired with the same. The workshop began with their Classic Mountain brand which is a 100% Arabica variant. We went through three different styles of brewing. The ‘Pour Over’ technique, which is a slightly longer procedure (and a bit intimidating for those who didn’t quite enjoy chemistry at school, thanks to the chemex filter) yielded a very light bodied coffee that was flavourful yet didn’t coat the mouth. The flavour of the coffee was complemented fabulously with the lemon curd and apples that were served. This particular brew makes for those looking for something ideal for the evening, where one can nibble on some fruits post work.
The ‘French Press’ technique was something a lot more familiar. Yielding a Medium bodied coffee, the brew was paired with madeleines. While I thoroughly enjoyed the latter, the coffee didn’t quite tick all the right boxes with me. While I tried complementing it with the lemon curd, it still didn’t hit any of the right spots. While I’m not for that brew personally, the recommended flavours that could be paired with it are soft cheeses and anything mildly citrus.
The final technique for the workshop was the ‘Aeropress’, a high pressure technique that extracted maximum flavour from the coffee powder. Given my bias towards stout beers, this particular technique was my favourite as the coffee was full-bodied and had the same feel and aromas of a good stout beer. Despite being paired with strong elements like caramel, chocolate and nuts, the coffee retained its original flavour and ticked all the right boxes in my book.
Drawing a parallel with beer, and how it is important for any brewery to have gateway beers that offer up familiar flavours to non-beer drinkers and bring them into the big bad world of beer, the coffee brewed in the aeropress is my gateway coffee. It also brought back fond memories of the nitro coffee I had had in the US. For most folks looking to appreciate coffee a lot better, the first technique would probably be a good place to start.
We concluded the session by bringing some order back into my universe with a South Indian filter coffee made from the Classic Pride variant, a mix of Robusta and Arabica. As much as it breaks my heart to defy thirty odd years of tradition, I just might have to start cheating on my regular filter coffee with the aeropressed Classic Mountain.
I’m quite delighted to have found another avenue, with coffee, to continue my exploration of the seemingly infinite world of food and all things good that go with it. Folks looking to discover new flavours ought to check out either variant of coffee from the Classic Group. More details can be found on their website.