I was thrilled when Madhuri messaged me to ask if I would be able to make it to a food bloggers event at the newly opened CCD Lounge on a weekday afternoon. It looked like an absolute impossibility not to be in office during peak hours but I was too excited not to have accepted the invite. And that was no mistake. A brilliant day spent sitting back and experiencing the fine art of coffee brewing and tasting in the company of journalists and fellow bloggers, followed by a lavish dining experience and to top it all, a goody –bag stuffed with goodies of course. A big thanks to CCD for having us over and Nidhi from Madisson for all the arrangements.
CCD experiences are not new to me since we are regulars at their coffee shops and have visited almost all the outlets around town across cities. The highway café’s have particularly been a super duper hit with us with their specially created breakfast and lunch menus, hygienic restrooms and peaceful ambience ensuring your highway escapades are most pleasurable. On one of our drives during down the Bangalore- Mysore Highway, I spotted almost 3-4 such outlets.
CCD has added another feather to its hat with the introduction of their new café in the format of a lounge. The lounge boasts of giving their customers the direct opportunity of indulging in coffee brewed with various techniques by making this happen at your own table.
Being a first for me, I really did not know what to expect. At the entrance, I met Nidhi who asked me if I was from the Media. No, a food blogger, and as I signed up with my details I relaised I was outnumbered by mediapersons. Only 2 other fellow food bloggers could make it to the event – Ally (with her cute son) & Madhuri. I was meeting them both for the first time and eager to catch up on the gossip of food.
As I walked in what struck me most was the ambience. The soothing colours of muted blues and beiges predominant, giving a great casual atmosphere to sip and relish your cuppa. You will be relived not to see the faux cane furniture so common in all coffee shops. The makeover has an understated elegance that is comfortable and inviting.
The event started off with a brief introduction of CCD’s new format by Ramachander Raman (Head – Food & Beverages, CCD) and went into the much awaited live- demo of the alternate brewing techniques of Siphon, Pour-over, French press and Mixology. Each technique was meticulously being explained and demonstrated and the coffee passed around for us to taste. I haven’t had the courage to venture far out of the espresso world, and into other brew methods so this was my first glance outside this world. This tasting session was the first time I had tried coffee expertly brewed through 4 different methods displaying the range of body and clarity that brew methods impart. For all of them (except Mixology), the coffee is recommended to be served black without sugar or milk. But to appreciate and savour the profile of each of the methods, you must develop the taste to appeal to your palate.
It was a delightful sight watching the action while we got to sample the starters being passed around. A vegetable platter consisting of an assortment of potato wedges, masala nuggets, potato buttons made their way round followed by a chicken platter of chicken nuggets, chicken fingers and sheek kabab all served with a spicy dip. Aren’t you amazed at the array of starters. Yes, these are all available at the lounge.
It was our lucky day as it looked like. Not only did the CCD team do a second round of deomonstrations for us ( which gave us a closer interaction with Mr Raman and we asked questions to our heart’s delight) but had the honour of having Ms. Rhicha Sinha (Sr Manager – Beverages at CCD) prepare her signature refresher drink – Tangy Curacao for us. A sweet and sour blue curacao topped with a tangy pineapple juice. As she finished pouring the last drop of the juice, click click click went the cameras as the tall glass of blue syrup merged slowly with the yellow of the pineapple drawing close resemblance to peacock hues. Irresistible and unquestionably refreshing.
Here’s my take on each of the techniques:
Siphon: this almost looks like a chemistry experiement being performed in front of you. This is a technique used predominantly in Japanese homes. I hadn’t seen a siphon coffee maker before and was fascinated with the action happening. It consists of two globes where you need to pour coffee on to the top most globe and hot water into the lower. Then its put on a heat source for 5 mins. Liquids defy gravity. The brew gurgles away but doesn’t boil. Then its removed from the heat and the coffee moves back down. So much science, so much sensory involvement.
My verdict: My personal favourite. Siphon coffee is delicate. The decoction leaves a sweet after taste and is slightly less bodied than other brews. Best had black.
French Press: A convenient technique to use at home. Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, stirring it and leaving to brew for a few minutes (infusion time of 4 mins), then pressing the plunger to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the container.
My verdict: French Press coffee for me is bolder, more earthy and slightly bitter. I would prefer to have this with a light milk. Sugar can be omitted.
Pour-over: A sachet of coffee which looks like a tea-bag is placed in the cup and hot water poured in intervals allowing the water to painstakingly drip into the cup. Not recommended it you are in a hurry for a quick cup of coffee.Pour-over coffee is the on-the-spot way to brew a high quality cup of coffee
My Verdict: A flavourful cup of coffee which will immediately give you the hit. I found it quite bitter and its aftertaste seemed to remain for a while.
They also have a range of their signature coffees namely the ‘Coffeetinis’ created for an exotic experience.
What I liked was that they have done away with a ‘no-choice’ menu to ‘craft-your-own’ options. As we sipped on the tangy curacao we ordered Kadai Paneer Pizza with Tomato herb sauce. They have 2 vegetarion and 3 non-vegetarian toppings to choose from, plus your choice of sauce ( Tomato Herb or Cheese Garlic Sauce). The pizza was a little dry with not much topping (not more than a couple of paneer cubes thrown in).
Next up came the sandwiches – gourmet sandwiches, fantastic tasting sandwich with flavours bursting into your mouth. We had ordered an Oriental chicken filling Italian Panini with mayonnaise spread. These are highly highly recommended.
The menu is re-evolved and includes a selection of salads, burgers, pasta dishes and our all-time favourite Indian fillers – veg & chicken biriyani and parathas.
Just in case you thought this was over, let me take you through the sinful desserts we dug into. Chocolate Fantasy Fudge – a rich chocolate cake served with ice-cream and Melting Moments – almost like a chocolate pudding with hot molten chocolate sauce inside topped with a big scoop of ice-cream. Wish we had ordered Seventh Heaven and French Cheesecake as well.
The afternoon ended with the grand finale of Nidhi handing over goodie bags to each of us. In case you haven’t guessed, it was a French press and a box of CCD’s ‘Dark Forest’ coffee powder.
So, if you are looking for that fine cup of the world’s most mysterious beverage brewed right on your table, then Café Coffee Day Lounge is where you should be.
My biggest complaint however is that they don’t have enough CCD Lounges around the city yet, (just 5 of them), because I would certainly love to be back there as often as I could to let my hair down and indulge. How I wish they would open up one next to my house.