Expanding my horizons – Of a coffee tasting with The Flying Squirrel Coffee

As I get older, it is becoming increasingly important to me that I don’t get stuck in my ways, or too settled. To this end, I try to grab every chance to learn or try something new, and not shy away from things outside my personal comfort zone. Quite bad enough that my hot shower and first cup of black tea have become sacrosanct, and I will not leave the house without the former, even if it makes me late. I would rather not get entrenched in other ways, and especially, not be closed to trying things. And well, that cuppa is part wake up ritual and part addiction. But it has to be a cup of tea, never coffee, unlike so many folks who can’t start their morning right without some.

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This mantra is what saw me, a couple of Saturdays ago, at The Flying Squirrel Micro-Roastery  and Cafe in Koramangala, participating in an experiential session where a group of bloggers and writers were taken through the coffee making process, the various beans and brews The Flying Squirrel Coffee offers, and of course, tastings! In case you’re wondering what makes this in any way an out of the box experience, it is for the simple reason that I stay far away from coffee – the smell bugs me, and I don’t even enjoy desserts with coffee, much less actually drink the stuff. But this was a chance to learn more and explore the world of micro-roasteries, where artisanal coffee is produced in small batches, and offers a freshness and flavor quality that is way different from mass produced brands. The Flying Squirrel Cafe is a very recent and lovely addition to the Koramangala cafe scene, but their 7 types of gourmet coffees have been available for the last three or four years, through their website and at stalls I’ve come across at markets and events in Bangalore, and today retails in multiple cities across the country.

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They have their roasting machine up front and center so customers can see the process first hand, and they also have on display their coffee beans and plants – very cool, especially for someone like me who despite being in Karnataka for five years and counting, has not yet made a trip to Coorg or experienced the coffee estates there. And indeed that is where TFSC comes from too, with Ashish D’Abreo and Tej Thammaiah, two of the founders, being experienced coffee aficionados. They led us on a tasting and making session of one of their special offerings, a cold brew coffee. And this is the one, actually, the only coffee, I drank and enjoyed, and have even brewed up at home as per their instructions. It is so perfectly refreshing for this hot summer, and I find a small glass (liberally dosed with condensed milk and milk) makes my day happier. And since I am not brewing it hot, I don’t find the smell overwhelming either, and the process of cold brewing makes for a sweeter and less pungent brew, so its a win-win!

The coffees come from Arabica and Robusta beans, which each have their own distinctive flavor palate, and length of growth as well (7 months before Arabica can be harvested; 9 months for the Robusta). The coffee is handpicked, duly inspected, and then sent through a variety of processes like pulping, fermentation, washing, sun-drying, and I learned that each choice will make for a different flavor profile (sweet, fruity, acidic, bitter) – fascinating! And that’s also why this is not the strong filter coffee that my grandparents brewed every morning that had me wrinkling my nose given the strong aroma, but a veritable bouquet of flavors and scents from the specialized treatments of the beans. For example, the cold brew that I, and indeed, most of our group took a shine to, is a blend of Honey Sun Dried Arabica and Arabica Peaberry and other beans, and had been roasted in such a way that it delays caramelization of the inherent sugars so they are released at the end – now that explains my affinity for it! Its lighter and sweeter than the average coffee and the resulting aroma, while roasty and rich, is not one I minded.

We tried a few more coffees, including the Nitro, another cold brewed coffee, which had liquid nitrogen added, something that is all the rage these days, be it in coffee or in beer, as it kicks up the flavors a few notches. Not for me, for that very reason! I also tried TFSC’s Vietnamese Iced Coffee, but found it too strong for my taste and added more condensed milk than was likely appropriate and definitely horrified some of the staunch coffee drinkers at the table. I found it interesting that I still couldn’t warm up to coffee in dessert – I usually avoid tiramisu or cheesecake with coffee, and after trying the Parama Infused Creme Brulee here, I realized that my heart belongs only to that one cold brew! Speaking of dessert, you should head to The Flying Squirrel Micro-Roastery and Cafe for a lot more than just their coffee. The desserts were really good! The Salted Caramel Cheesecake that comes with popcorn topping, the Chocolate Overload Cheesecake with Kit Kat and malted chocolate balls, or the truly zinging Old Monk and Coke Cheesecake, which had cola jelly – you must try them!

I also quite enjoyed the lunch we had, and given the size of our group, we managed to try almost all their offerings. So whether it is pasta, mains, a sandwich, or a salad, you will get a lovely meal here. They also serve breakfast all day, and I plan to check out those offerings on my next visit. The place gets quite packed and can be noisy, so it may not be the right venue for a meeting or to get work done, but whether it is coffee your heart beats faster for, or good dessert, this place is sure to leave you happy and content.

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