Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nostalgia: The romance of India/Indian Coffee House

What’s the difference between India Coffee House and Indian Coffee House? I shall come to that shortly. What is important is that both together have been serving Indian coffee with the same aroma and taste for seven decades. And three generations have enjoyed it.

In the post Some memories of WW II, Cochin and the 1940s., I mentioned India Coffee House on Broadway, Cochin. My maternal grandfather (KC Abraham, Kallivayalil-Konduparambil) took four of us siblings there when we were children. It was a great experience which we enjoyed thoroughly. We had coffee and glucose biscuits. I don’t think they served stuff like masala dosa those days.

Again I mentioned India Coffee House in the post Bangalore memories. That was a place I loved during college days in the early 1950s. The laid back atmosphere, spending hours over a cup of real coffee, small talk which one forgets even before leaving the place, diverse people – students, journalists, elders. Something that belonged to another era.

Or so I thought, till I came across an article ‘Coffee, tea and memories’ by Priyanka Haldipur in the Deccan Herald. She says: ‘Walk into the place for a feel of what Bangalore would have seemed like almost five decades ago. Nothing has changed in this humble coffee place... not the style, and certainly not the coffee.’

Another Coffee House I remember from my school days is the one at Trivandrum, opposite to the present AG’s Office. They used to serve excellent masala dosa as well. But we mostly patronized Connemara CafĂ©, next to Sridharan’s General Store (started by his father Kesavan) and owned by the same people. The favorite there was cutlets with a salad of curry cucumber and a cold, non-aerated orange drink.

These places (other than Connemara) were ‘India Coffee Houses’ to start with. The first was opened in Bombay in 1935 by the Indian Coffee Cess Committee. The objective was to promote the consumption of coffee. Subsequently, Indian Coffee Board took over and built up a chain of 72 coffee houses. But in the 1950s the Board closed down most of these cafes and sacked the workers.

Enter AK Gopalan, the famous Communist leader from Kerala. He organized a worker’s cooperative by the former employees of the Coffee Board and started the first Indian Coffee House at Trichur, Kerala in 1958. It has now grown into a chain of nearly 400 outlets all over India. I believe that Coffee Board still runs about a dozen India Coffee Houses.

This is written over a big cup (a birthday present from my grandson Adithya) of strong black coffee. Good. The coffee, I mean. Whether the article too deserves that comment is for you to judge!


Photo credits: Coffee beans - BackgroundBoy, Cup of coffee – PDPhoto.org

Note: The cup shown in the photo is not the one I use


Anonymous said...

Coffee puts the system under the strain of metabolizing a deadly acid-forming drug, depositing its insoluble cellulose, which cements the wall of the liver, causing this vital organ to swell to twice its proper size. In addition, coffee is heavily sprayed. (Ninety-two pesticides are applied to its leaves.) Diuretic properties of caffeine cause potassium and other minerals to be flushed from the body.

All this fear went away when I quit, and it was a book that inspired me to do it called The Truth About Caffeine by Marina Kushner. There are five things I liked about this book:

1) It details--thoroughly--the ways in which caffeine may damage your health.

2) It reveals the damage that coffee does to the environment. Specifically, coffee was once grown in the shade, so that trees were left in place. Then sun coffee was introduced, allowing greater yields but contributing to the destruction of rain forests. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else.

3) It explains how best to go off coffee. This is important. If you try cold turkey, as most people probably do, the withdrawal symptoms will likely drive you right back to coffee.

4) Helped me find a great resource for the latest studies at CaffeineAwareness.org

5) Also, if you drink decaf you won’t want to miss this special free report on the dangers of decaf available at www.soyfee.com

Maddy said...

Abe - i have been to all three ICH's you mentioned..The TVM one close to British council being the one I frequented most!!

Oh Yeah - anonymous - I dont see any problems with south indians - especially tamilians who have been virtually bred on strong filter coffee from childhood. Today they do well and have spread around the management & scientific world.

According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, caffeine intake not only appears to protect against Alzheimer's but may actually help those who already have the disease. Researchers at the Byrd Alzheimer's Institute in Florida have reported that five cups of coffee a day could protect humans in the same way that the caffeine equivalent appears to have in the study of mice.

I think Mohanlal should have thought about more coffee before Thanmatra!

Maddy said...

The therapeutic effects of caffeine over the long-term have been noted in relation to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cirrhosis of the liver, cancer of the liver, colorectal cancer and suicide. Although caffeine has been suspected of causing high blood pressure the association appears stronger when caffeine is consumed via soft drinks
Source -

Abraham Tharakan said...

Maddy has presented an array of details to dispel the fears of 'anonymous'.

I have been drinking coffee for at least sixty years.