Café in Delhi: a long quest

FRENCH VERSION YET TO COME – VERSION FRANÇAISE À VENIR

This article would not exist without a friend who helped me in my quest for good coffees. Thank you.

I’ve already talked a lot about the indian national way to make tea, with milk, spices and sugar (the famous chai). I have become used to it, and drink some everyday now. However, it is not a perfect substitute to my parisian morning coffees (mornings or sleepless nights). Apart from the level of caffeine in it, another difference between « un café » and « ek chai » is the context: in Paris, when you meet someone over a coffee, you sit and take one hour to drink the 10cL of magic beverage. And you pay 2€. In New Delhi, you just go to a street corner chai walla, and you drink your chai standing alone in 1 minute. And you pay 5 Roupies (0.07€).

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The first time I heard about coffee in India was at the canteen of my university, when students asked for a cold coffee. Then I started to investigate the « coffee issue » in India.
– First, let me prevent all your future disappointments: when you see « coffee » written on a menu card, it is not an expresso, it’s a Nescafe powder soluble in water with a lot of milk and sugar in it. The cold coffee is the same thing, but just as cold as it sounds. It is not bad if you forget that it’s supposed to be coffee. So if you want something closer to what can be called coffee, better ask for « black coffee » (it will be a garam – hot – one).
– Second, let’s talk about this « black coffee ». Several kinds of beverage will be served. The soluble without any sugar or milk is the worst one (and the more common, unfortunately). However, if you are in a South Indian restaurant (or in South India…), you can order a filter coffee. It’s still not the Italian Expresso I dream of but it is pretty much acceptable.

Picture taken from the Internet

Picture taken from the Internet

– Third and last thing to know about coffee: My two first points were about Indian coffee. But, thanks to globalization (or because of it), one can now find « westernized coffee » in specific places. Not many Starbucks in India yet (the first one just opened in Mumbai-Bombay in 2012 and there are none in Delhi), but some « Indian Starbucks« . The most famous one is Café Coffee Day (CCD, to be pronounced « si.si.di » if you want to follow the trends, and if you don’t want to pronounce a name that does not mean anything), an Indian   brand. There are so many of them in India ! You’ll also find a lot of Costa Coffee (UK) or The Coffee Bean (US) even though they are a bit less popular outside of big cities. Indian wealthy youths are the typical clients of these places. Coffee there tastes more like coffee in Europe. Expresso, cappuccino, mocha… it’s nothing outstanding for the -rather high- price (I would say 80 – 120 INR // 1.10 – 1.70€ per cup), but there are not much places apart from these where you can hang out. In France, I would not like these places that much, because it is quite easy to find a quiet and sunny terrace to enjoy a drink. In Delhi (and India), not only are « cafés »-drinks hard to find, but « café »-places also. And God, I truly miss both of them*.

*Maybe it justifies the fact that I drink four cups of chai everyday. Or maybe not.

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