Hindi Language Blog

Tea, Coffee and Class Posted by on Jun 30, 2021 in Culture, Food, History

Coffee in the garden

Image by Renuagra from Pixabay

India is a land of caste जाति and class श्रेणी. Whether people realize it or not, they utilize class-conscious वर्ग जागरूक ways of behavior. For example, speaking in English, shows you are upwardly mobile उपरिगामी गतिशीलता. While Tapori is lower in status even though it has been gaining acceptance स्वीकृति प्राप्त करना by higher classes in recent years.  But, did you know that even beverages पेय, like tea and coffee, drinking indicates caste and class?

Origins of Coffee in India

Typically, Indians prefer पसंद करते हैं tea to coffee unless one lives in the south where coffee drinking is more prevalent प्रचलित.

Coffee originated in what is known in modern-day आधुनिक दिन as Ethiopia, but during the Medieval era, the Arabs monopolized एकाधिकार the coffee trade. They exported निर्यात only roasted beans to prevent competition प्रतियोगिता.

Legend has it that the Sufi saint Baba Budan smuggled तस्करी seven coffee seeds into India on his return from a pilgrimage तीर्थ यात्रा to Mecca.  He was not checked at customs since he was returning from a pilgrimage. People planted these seeds बीज in the Chandragiri hills of Karnataka. The Budhangiri mountain range is named नामित after this saint.

It is also said that the Mughals brewed पीसा coffee in the 1600s while it was the British who set up plantations वृक्षारोपण in Coorg and Wayanad in Karnataka.

Coffee started being consumed ग्रहण किया हुआ by the upper castes and classes in India at this time in the 19th century. By the 20th century, the Tamil Brahmins ब्राह्मणों had started the practice of drinking coffee after initialप्रारंभिक  reservations of it being a symbol of western modernity.

The humble tumbler

South Indians drink brewed filter coffee similar समान to the Italians, except that the coffee is not that strong, but milky दूध का and sweet with a lovely froth at the top. People serve the coffee in a rimmed tumbler गिलास turned upside down into a small bowlकटोरा. As you lift the tumbler slowly from the bowl the coffee is released into the bowl, so you can sip it while it is cooling.

The reason for sipping coffee out of a saucer तश्तरी or bowl originated with the lower castes and classes, who could not drink out of the cup for fear of polluting the cup.

Also, goes for tea. As we pass by tea stalls चाय की दुकान in India, it is not uncommon to see people holding both the teacup चाय का प्याला and saucer in their hands but, sipping the tea from the saucer.

Restaurants in major cities शहरों in India now use the humble stainless steel tumbler to serve coffee and tea. This is an attempt to go retro and has become part of hipster style. In fact, many of the Indian diasporas pick up stainless steel tumblers स्टेनलेस स्टील and bring it with them to their adoptive दत्तकcountries to retain the nostalgia.


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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.