The human mind is capable of some amazing things that it can pull off effortlessly. One of them being the ability to remember the most embarrassing events that happened to you. You think you can forget about it, but the mind remembers all that stuff and brings it your attention when you least expect it to.
It’s annoying really.
That’s how I remembered my first coffee at Cafe Coffee Day, out of the blue. But then again, it’s serving as my topic to write for today, so maybe there is a reason my brain remembers this moment. It wasn’t all that embarrassing, but a bit embarrassing all the same.
This had to happen at a time when I was just enjoying my espresso and lo and behold, the Cafe Coffee Day logo triggered that incident back into my memory.
A little context for all the non Indian readers out there (yeah, I see you guys). Cafe Coffee Day or CCD, as it’s popularly called as is a cafe franchise that are frequented by three kinds of people.
- The lovey-dovey couple or couples in general.
- The guy who is trying to impress his girl
- A couple of friends, who are money impersonified
I say this, because to a average middle class kid like me, paying 100 rupees for a coffee was just the definition of insanity. I could get perfectly fine coffee for 10 or 15 rupees. Besides, CCD held little significance to a lousy loner like me, who would spend that money on a good grilled chicken than spending on a coffee to impress a girl, who wouldn’t give two licks about me.
But CCD did pique my interest, simply because I wanted to know if the coffee was worth the asking price it was demanding from everyone in the country. What was so special about that coffee that it demanded a premium that people had no trouble paying?
That question would be answered soon enough.
I bought a Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk which had some code for a CCD Coupon on the cover. I’ve never won any coupons or prizes like that and decided to try my luck once again. Lucky Lucy must have smiled on me that day, for I did receive a coupon to drink a coffee at CCD worth 100 Rupees.
I decided to find an answer to this question that was niggling on the back of my mind.
The nearest CCD outlet was at Phoenix Marketcity, a pretty big mall. Since it was Thursday morning, the mall wore a deserted look, giving me the perfect setting to enjoy my coffee. I reached the mall which was nearly 8 kilometers from my house.
The CCD outlet at Phoenix was a more open type outlet, as opposed to the closed enclosures with dim lighting that signify CCD. The lady at the counter greeted me with a smile and asked for my order. I reached for my phone and showed her the coupon.
“Oh”, went the cute lady at the counter, as if disappointed. That cuteness is significant to this story, mind you. That “Oh” should have set off every alarm bell in my mind. But what was running through my mind at that time?
“Ah, she’s cute. Maybe I say something like “You’re cute” or something to that effect. Nah, that would come off as creepy and weird. She’s cute though.“, forgetting to process the “Oh” that could have signified, “Another cheapskate with a coupon.“. I was distracted by her cuteness. Judge me all you want.
“Anything you would like to add?“, asked she, in a curt tone.
“Nothing else“, said dumb old me.
As I waited for my coffee to come, I noticed the surroundings around me. Situated near this CCD Outlet was a favorite store of mine called “CeX” that deals in second hand electronics and games. The open nature of the cafe house was accentuated with fronds placed at a uniform interval from each other. A couple was sitting beside me, but I chose to ignore them.
Last thing I need when I want to enjoy my coffee is to realize I have the social skills of a ghost. They don’t exist really, just like ghosts.
Five minutes later, came my coffee in a fancy plastic cup, accompanied by two small packets of what I assumed to be sugar. The coffee was nearly scalding hot, so I had to wait it out for the coffee to be at human levels of acceptable heat.
I smelled it first. There wasn’t any aroma that accompanied the coffees that I usually drink. Ah, what the hell. With expectations pretty close to the sky, I took a sip.
I’ve never drank dishwater, and I have no plans to do that in the foreseeable future. But if you did drink dishwater by some chance and told the taste was bland and murky, then I would shoved this coffee in your face and tell, “Pretty much the same thing then“.
It was bland, murky and nothing like coffee. I pried open the packets that came with it and saw that they were host to brown sugar, instead of the cheaper refined sugar. I added some and took another sip. Nothing changed. I added some more and the result was pretty much the same, only slightly sweeter this time.
All expectations came crashing to the ground like Icarus, who flew too close to the sun. To make matters worse, remember how I said CCD was for lovey-dovey couples? Also, remember I mentioned a couple was sitting beside me?
All I needed was a string quartet near that couple belting out the best love music and my day would have progressed from bad to worse. But it was just bad. They did what lovey-dovey couples would do, not even minding the open nature of the outlet, which reminded that I can’t and will never be part of a couple. I did mention I had the social skills of a ghost.
So, I left that coffee and came away a dissatisfied and disillusioned man.
The next day, I told my best friend about my CCD experience and asked him if all the coffees there taste like that. He was a well documented foodie. Name any place and he will list out the best and worst dishes of their menu.
“Well, the free ones must taste like that. You must have had a latte, if the coupon was 100 Rupees“, said he.
“Well, it wasn’t worth the 100 bucks. I don’t care even if it was a coupon“, I fumed.
“Their coffees taste great. You must have lucked out that day. Besides, not everyone goes for the coffee alone“, he quipped.
“The ambience. People go there for the ambience.“, he replied.
Ambience. Atmosphere. Yes, I understand that it’s an important factor for any self-respecting cafe outlet, but if that’s the only reason people frequent CCD’s, then call me miffed.
“Who told you to go alone? You could have called me too“, told he.
“Well, it was only one coupon“, I replied. Weakest excuse I could have come with.
From that day forth, I swore off all CCD coffees. But of course, my office had to have a coffee vending machine, courtesy of CCD. Even then, I haven’t tried a latte after that to this day. Just cappucinos and espressos. Especially espressos.
Oh, you are waiting to know what I learnt from it. Well, I learnt jack shit. Just that never use a coupon from CCD is all.