When I order an Espresso…

I know what I am ordering. Waiters in Barista, Cafe Coffee Day, Amethyst, Brio – Please note. It has been my experience that whenever an Espresso is ordered, the waiter has a shocked look, and explains “Sir, it is black coffee, are you sure?”. Some concerned ones go even further and educate me, “Sir, it is freshly brewed coffee with no milk, no sugar. Are you sure?”.

I thought may be it was only me with my rustic looks. But I observed the same thing happen with others too. The coffee bars in Chennai seem to think that the citizens are not yet ready for the Espresso. Horror of horrors, even after you order, they come back and ask, “Sir, do you want hot water along with the coffee to dilute it?”.

23 Comments so far

  1. John Rambow (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 1:33 pm

    I think they must ask that of everyone — I get it too. I suppose they must get a lot of people sending their espresso back because it’s bad– or maybe they did at one time.

  2. Lavanya (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

    Chenthil – after all the questioning, how is the quality of the espresso usually?

  3. Chenthil (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

    Ranking from best to worst

    1. Cafe Mocha at Amethyst, Barista GN Chetty Road
    2. Barista Nungambakkam High Road
    3. Cafe Coffe Day Cenatoph Road
    100. Brio, Venkatnarayana Road

  4. Srikanth (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

    Hey, by the way, this is off the topic: drinking coffee without milk is good for health. Coffee without milk is considered food, not a beverage. For more info, google :)

  5. Siva (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

    I’ve got “black coffee, are you sure?” in Blr & Hyd Baristas too. I think they’re trained to say that.

  6. Pavithra (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 6:27 pm

    Forgive me, the ignorant one – if I were ordering an Espresso, they’d be right to ask. Until you said, so, I’d no idea it was just black coffee (and I hate the stuff.). Now I know. :)

  7. Nilu (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

    Elitists such as yourself go to fancy places and have coffee without milk, while paying the equivalent of my annual income for it.

    Over and above that, you find fault with the waiter who, like the rest of us common folk, refuses to understand why someone would pay so much for dark colored, caffeinated water.

    Will these snobs ever change?

  8. suppamani (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

    We the people in villages are daily taking this only, at the nearest’Chukkuneer Coppy Kadai” for 50 paise per cup for which you gentlemen are payuing the mopnthly budget of an average indian family and also discussing very proudly the same in these colum.

  9. rajani (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

    It is true. Indians living in the US prefer Indian stuff love filter coffee, nair tea. And Indians living in India like the western stuff like Cappuccino, Espresso.

    Nothing wrong with that though.

  10. John (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

    If they are so hesitant to provide espresso’s why do they have it on their menu.

  11. nandhu (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

    ethellam romba over. when u have hot water with ur expresso, it’s called expresso americano, i believe. not sure. but i do have hot water to dilute the black coffee. and even i know what i am ordering.

  12. Just Chummaa... (unregistered) on February 17th, 2007 @ 3:16 am

    Coffee Cups

    A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

    Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups–porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

    When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:”If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

    Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life; and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.”

    Enjoy your coffee!”The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”

    Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God

  13. Chenthil (unregistered) on February 17th, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

    Suppamani Sir, you cannot get away with simply throwing numbers.

    1. Chukku neer coffee is Rs. 1.00/1.50 now a days and not 50 paise as you claim.

    2. In 2003-04, the mean household income of the lower income class (which make up about 37 per cent of all households) in the rural areas has been estimated at Rs 18,805 – source. That works out to be Rs. 1567.00 per month. Average cost of Espresso is Rs. 40.00 across the coffee shops in Chennai. So your statement “which you gentlemen are payuing the mopnthly budget of an average indian family ” is pure gas.

    3. I have drunk chukku neer coffee and I have drunk Espresso. Both are not the same in terms of preparation or taste. I invite you to join me for a cup of Espresso whenever you are free.

  14. Anon (unregistered) on February 17th, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    I cant see what wrong in the waiter asking “are you sure?”. This coffee shop culture is quite new here & people need time to get used to what is what.

    The waiters describing & confirming will only help those who are new to the shop.

    Simply saying “Yes” to the waiter solves the problem rather than moaning like as if this a huge annoyance.

  15. suppamani (unregistered) on February 17th, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

    Dear Chenthil

    Thank you very much for having offerred Espresso and it itself gave me much satisfaction than having a cup of espresso by spending at Rs.40/ each. In your statements itself you have accepted by giving datas that average earning of a villager is about Rs.1500/- per month or maximum Rs.50/- per day. It proves that by having an espresso we are simply spending the days need of a villager by having a cup of espresso.

  16. Chenthil (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 9:39 am

    Aj, Suppamani Sir, we have now come down from a month’s wages to daily wages. In that case, you can argue that having a coffee at Saravana Bhavan worth Rs. 10.00 is tantamount to spending a quarter day’s wages of a villager. So where do we stop?

  17. suppamani (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 10:02 am

    Dear Chenthil,

    The difference between the necessities and the luxury is very thinly drawn line, and which can be erased according the wishes, taSTES AND STATUS OF THE PERSONS INVOLVED.

  18. kris (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    Chenthil, The problem is not in Chennai alone. Even in Bangalore and Delhi I encountered same question. If they think Indians can’t drink it why keep it on the menu.
    There can be another side also that they don’t actually know how to make it!!

  19. sudha (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2007 @ 10:29 am

    You can put down Singapore too in that list, I had to literally persuade a bariste (she was genuinely concerned) for an espresso when I desperately needed one last week. Maybe it has more to do with our infamous hospitality – ever tried convincing a South Asian host/ess that you were indeed done at dinner?

  20. Gleidson (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

    Here in Brazil it’s a good order!
    After dinner, all the cafe shops are full!

    But there’s a mistake in brazilian cafes. Most of them write “Expresso”… bad written, good taste!

  21. gokul (unregistered) on February 25th, 2007 @ 6:37 pm

    i’ve had my fair share of this experience ……

  22. iMaGellan! (unregistered) on March 1st, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

    Hey Friends
    Rather reflects the times we live in. One man’s luxury is another’s necessity.
    Having a cup of coffee for Rs 40/- or Rs 1/- is his/her choice which is dependent upon what the consumer associates the cofee with.
    I am a Rs 40/- person…i associate my coffee with a lot of pleasure, friends, cool atmosphere, chatting over coffee, having a smoke (of course you can do that at a lot of baristta joints in bombay from where i am).
    i am a maharashtrian born and brought up in chennai, to be exact from mylapore…i just love this place…
    keep in touch…

  23. santos (unregistered) on March 9th, 2007 @ 12:54 am

    Hi mr,nathan All,
    I’ve being working in hospitality industry last 7 years. and present I’m working as Barista (a coffee Executive) a Italian cafĂ© in gulf region, and I was my in vacation in India when I went to with my friends to a coffee shop called Mocka in Chennai, I ordered a double Espresso coffee, so the waiter asked me 2 times are u want order Espresso I said ‘yes’ I like it and I said to the waiter I also a Barista so then he understood. And when I finished my coffee the waiter came to me and asked how the coffee is? And I said I want more stronger than this, so he went back and he came with 1 more cup of a Espresso and he said try this so the friends are sitting with me they just sip the coffee and said to me that they never going try this coffee again and they said taste like bitter and very strong. and I do really understand them very well because they never been out of India and they never have tried any thing like this I’m native Indian and I brought up in Multicultural people (European and Arabian western culture) but I remember my self when my god father mad me a Finnish coffee 12 years ago I was a just a Indian boy I have no idea about coffee and said to him I never going try this coffee again but 2day I love to drink minimums 2 cup of coffee like Italian to Turkish and African American and all the beans world has so in my life wherever I’m traveling I’m taking with me a small collections of tea and coffee for my every day life so guys has to under stand the world has many culture and people knows something and some of them they don’t know and especially in India you say the people coming to coffee shop they know what exactly they ordering for so u guys have understand the waiter’s is Wright that he/she checked twice that’s absolutely wrights, and if I order the same expressed in Europe the waiter never going to ask me 2 times/ so I think he/she did great job.
    Any way in my experience as Barista (a coffee executive) when I took order some of them know what they’re ordering for but some people they genuinely ask the waiter what is this writing on menu? And what taste like this? And I’ll explain them what exactly and taste, but some case they just see the manus and they just order and when they got order and then they just say they don’t like it. So you need to under stand.

    So I think the man asked me he abousultuly wrights, that he checked me 2 times. He did great job as well.

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