Over a Cup of Coffee
As I make my way up to the corporate headquarters of Lavazza India in Chennai, I am enveloped by the wafting aroma of coffee. Well, after all I am here to attend the unique Bean to Cup session conducted by the trained barista and the coffee lover in me is intrigued and excited. Fresh and Honest Café Ltd is a 100% subsidiary of Lavazza, which is one of the leading Coffee companies in India. Established in 1895 in Turin, the Italian roaster has been owned by the Lavazza family for four generations. Lavazza operates in all business segments – at home, away-from-home and office coffee service. The session itself is conducted by head trainer Abdul Shahid Khan and as I wait for the session to start in the conference room surrounded by coffee posters, I am given a wonderfully brewed cup of coffee that sets the right tone for the session ahead.
We started with the basic espresso started by Luigi Lavazza in 1895 who created the very first blend of coffee after a lot of research. Incidentally, espresso can be brewed in 20 seconds. At the center there are a variety of different machines – fully automatic, semi-automatic and capsule machines (where you don’t have to worry about the freshness and the grind size) as everything is taken care in the capsules. Espresso has a special place of importance here and the best espresso comes from semi-automatic machines rather than fully automatic ones. The reason behind this is that it because to make a good cup of coffee you need three things first is the coffee beans or the water they ingredients second is the machine and third thing is the person who is making coffee. Grind size is changed to get the best extraction. I also learnt here that coffee has to fall like hot honey not like water and the grind size is changed to ensure this and is called clock in time. In fact this is changed every two hours because every time coffee comes in contact with environment it absorbs all the moisture so that’s the reason it is changed to get the perfect brewing timing. The crema makes the coffee smoother and tastier. The tangy taste of coffee comes from the Arabica beans and it is best enjoyed black.
To make the best cup of Cappuccino, I am told that it is better to use full cream milk that has a fat content of 3.5 to 4% and a steam based heating method is used that breaks down the fat. Also the milk is heated to a temperature of about 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. The reason behind this is if the milk is heated above 80 degrees Celsius the protein content of the milk gets burned and converts into saturated fat. Again, for all cappuccino, cafe latte, Americano coffees, a single shot of espresso is very important and this is always made fresh as the aroma and crema start disappearing if it is made in advance. Lavazza has created several coffee blends that can also be customized to suit the needs of the target audience.
The coffee center also displays a variety of coffee beans. Pienaroma for instance has a base blend of Brazilian beans – the largest producer to which they add 15 to 20% of Colombian beans. The coffee quality changes because of the weather, rainfall and soil water giving a slightly altered taste profile every time. The Tierra Brazil beans are of special interest to the company as they can trace the history and geography of the bean to it source. Coffee is typically bought from the fair trade market and Tierra is their CSR project where the company works along with the farmers to help them to grow better quality beans by not using harmful pesticides and fertilizers and the Tierra Brazil beans are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The Oro Aroma beans are from Chikamangalur and are 100% Arabica beans considered to be one of the best from India. The beans are long and are from a triple ‘A’ plantation.
Do It Yourself Filter Coffee
A challenge faced in India is all about brewing culture and many parts of India (outside the South) are not aware of what coffee is all about. This is why the company has both a filter and a coffee powder pouch that has Il Mattino VIvace, its premium pure filter coffee and there is a recipe book also. This is an exclusive product made in India and for India. The coffee powder is packed with such a way that while the carbon dioxide should be released but oxygen must not enter inside as the coffee tends to oxidize. Research at Lavazza indicates that 14 gm of coffee powder and 100 ml of water gives about 80-85 ml of decoction that can make 2 cups of coffee.
A popular way to make coffee is to use the French Press that can also work beautifully if you want to make Cappuccino at home. Well use the French Press to add milk and then shake and stir the milk in the press to get a nice creamy and frothy milk that can be poured into the decoction to make home style fresh Cappuccino. And you can also make it more professional by adding a dash of some chocolate sauce and cinnamon powder too!
Capsule Coffee Machines
When you are here you can also try coffee from the capsule coffee making machine. Here the capsule is a small portion of coffee powder that is nitrogen flushed that goes into the machine and brews a coffee of your choice. There are different capsule blends for different kinds of coffee (taste preferences strong, mild, smooth). The capsule takes care that the grind size is perfect and allows for the kind of coffee you need (espresso, latte, cappuccino etc.)
Cold coffees are brewed with cold water and do not extract any oil from the bean and hence have a shelf life of close to ten days. The team has about 17 different recipes with cold brews and called coffeetail mixed with different fruity flavours. There are several machines that can be used in home and the coffee extracted can be kept refrigerated. Nitro brew a variant when cold brew is infused with nitrogen to make the coffee smoother. Nitro brew equipment is not very complex and the siphons are available online. The texture of the coffee is amazing and when infused with caramel syrup makes for a delicious drink.
How will it be to eat your coffee? Well as far fetched as this sounds this is exactly what I did by trying out coffee caviar. Lavazza works very closely with several chefs and coffee caviar is a form of molecular gastronomy. Using a syringe, small drops of the coffee, sugar and alginate mixture is added to the diluted calcium chloride to make small drops of espresso coffee. Lavazza has made a dropper with 120 outlets so you get many droplets at one shot that are given a cold water wash to create a delicacy like no other. So you can eat espresso too.
- Espresso cannot be single origin as while it can be aromatic, it might miss out on strength and body. Blends works better with Espresso to get a more rounded flavour and taste.
- Coffee Tasting Tip: Take in the aroma. Slurp it to get the best of flavour and acidity.
- Air convention roasters use hot air that ensures that the beans have the best of caramelized taste.
- Lavazza is the only official coffee partner of all the four Tennis Grand Slams!