It was a late afternoon of October. In the mild winter mood, with a strong thirst for coffee, I went to Artisan Cafe -- one of the fanciest coffee shops in Sylhet with a friend of mine. Next to our table, we saw a boy asking for one espresso coffee. As soon as he took a sip of the cup, his face became worth watching with an expression probably, "Have I paid a lot for that ounce of bitter liquid?"
Well, this can often be the experience of someone who never tasted espresso before and not so familiar with the high-caffeine coffee. To feel the accurate taste and aroma of espresso, first of all, you need to drink some water to cleanse your pallet. Give the espresso a stir and take a sip. Let the coffee cover your tongue and then pay attention to the aftertaste. The concentrated flavours may taste overbearing at first but over time you will grow to love it.
Espresso is a coffee-making method in which a small amount of nearly boiling water is forced under pressure (expressed) through finely-ground coffee beans, with a coffee machine. It is a short, strong drink of about 30 millilitres. There are many more types of coffees consisting of espresso, like Doppio (double espresso), Ristretto (made with espresso roast used for full espresso shots, but less hot water is pushed through the grounds, about 20 ml in size), Lungo (espresso with much more water, about 50–60 ml in size), Americano (espresso with hot water, 100–150 ml in size), Macchiato (espresso-based coffee drink with a small amount of milk, usually foamed and drink size is about 50 ml) etc. And if you are a coffee lover with a weakness for the freshness of lemon, Romano is absolutely your type of thing which consists of espresso and lemon.
But, it seems such high levels of caffeine, or coffee with such a strong taste is not quite familiar in Bangladesh. Nishu Faiz, an undergrad student and a regular consumer of coffee, prefers a creamy texture with a mild bitter taste.
“I've had insomnia since I was very young. Whether it's because of taking too much caffeine exacerbating the problem or for my own taste, I always prefer less coffee with more cream,” said Nishu.
An espresso with steamed milk and only a little milk foam poured over it-- this mild 'milk coffee' of about 150-300 ml is known as Caffé Latte. If you like milk more than coffee, this is the one for you. And if you like Latte but want to take a smaller shot, then Flat White -- double espresso and lightly frosted milk which is 150–240 ml in size -- can be your thing.
"On the last night before jury, when the project remains incomplete, a cup of cappuccino becomes a much bigger saviour than anything else." This is how Afrida Enam Easa, a student of the Architecture department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), was sharing the greatness of coffee in her stressful nights. Cappuccino is one of the most popular types of coffee which consists of espresso and a milk foam mixture with a drink size of about 160–240 ml.
"It’s just whenever I feel like having a good time, I go out to a cafe with my friends and grab a cup of White Mocha or Mocha," shared Shanto Chowdhury, another student from SUST. Mocha is basically a caffé latte with chocolate and whipped cream, made by pouring about 20 ml of chocolate sauce into the glass, followed by an espresso shot and steamed milk. For Shanto, this delicately processed liquid acts as bliss for him.
He said, “Having a conversation with amigos, sharing little things and taking sips from the cup in-between, what else needed to boost up the exhausted mind?”
Young apprentice photographer Shaishob Rahman, rather than being a coffee lover, claims to be more of a dessert lover. Sometimes when he may not have a thirst for a heated cup of coffee but want to have some refreshing dessert or a chilled glass of drink with a kick, he goes for Iced Latte, which is ice, cold milk and an espresso in a latte glass (about 300 ml), often mixed with some sugar or flavoured syrup.
He also mentioned Cold Brew Coffee (a smooth, cold beverage prepared by brewing freshly ground coffee in cold water), Affogato (espresso poured on a vanilla ice cream), espresso con panna (a shot of espresso topped with whipped cream), or Frappe (rich iced coffee made of espresso, milk and ice, about 300 ml in size) as his preference.
"After a long exhausting photo-walk during summer days, a chilled glass of iced coffee helps me catch the colour in my eyes again," said the young photographer.
Dr Lamia Tahsin Kamal Purnata, a resident physician at International Medical College and Hospital, simply became confused when asked to recall one or two special memories with coffee.
"Coffee is such a thing which reminds me of whom I've been having it with, who were my chit-chat companions and who are important in life."
Coffee, hence, is not a fancy drink with fancy names. It is a reliever of tension, a gateway to wash away frustrations and concentrate on the self with a fresh head.
Sirajum Munira is a student at SUST. Reach her at [email protected]