International Coffee Day 2018 : Interview with Viggnesh – The Coffee Enthusiast

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i first came to know of Viggnesh from a coffee-class he taught in Chennai. since then, i have understood more about the world of coffee and how there are many more such true blue coffee fanatics out in the world.
this International Coffee Day, i wish to bring to you, snippets of our conversation all of which revolves around coffee.

say hello to mr.viggnesh – the coffee enthusiast

let’s get right to it, what does coffee mean to you?

Coffee, is just everything. From starting the day to make a cup for my wife based on her mood till i end the day cupping a new Indian bean it just takes part in every minute of my day. Coffee is not just a drink for me, it is a part of my life where i reinvent myself everyday.

wow, so are you a coffee snob? what is your opinion on Instant Coffee?

I am on the right path to becoming one and i believe there is long way to go. I understand the finer intricacies of a cup, a bean and the brew but there is so much to learn and i am in the initial pages. Instant coffee is where a thick syrup of coffee is extracted from lower grade beans and crystallized. It does give a strong taste but you never get to enjoy the variety of flavours like you do in a freshly brewed cup of coffee.. Instant is not healthy as well and it is not a coffee that i would drink at any given day in my life even i get withdrawal symptoms from coffee ๐Ÿ˜€

that makes sense! how did this start? how did you become a coffee enthusiast?

I started experimenting different methods of brewing from my kitchen to get a nice espresso flavor. This was out of whatever is there in my kitchen and no fancy stuff. The experiment still has not come to a stop. Throughout my journey of experimenting, i came across people like @heritageblend, @bilihu, who helped me initially to understand more about the bean in itself. On March 23 2014, is when i tried my first brew from an Indian bean that was not available in a supermarket store. From using heirloom methods of brewing, flavour infusions, roast profiling, cold brews, espresso pressure profiling and manual extraction method all followed through and i did not want to call myself anything other being just an enthusiastic person over coffee!

that’s just you being humble! you have great coffee skills!! how did you develop them? esp the taste skills required for cupping coffee?

Coffee cupping or tasting is a skill that we all have. Basically in the initial stages when you cup coffee, you would not notice all the flavors. It comes out of consistent practice but with also the fact that you might end up on the threshold of flavour saturation soon. I never wanted to take the path of certifications or going by what was already prescribed. I went to few cupping sessions to understand how people do it. When i first started cupping coffee i did not think of anything else except me having an open mind and an empty page in my notebook to write the flavors and notes. I felt that You have to try the same coffee umpteen times till your notes are the same over multiple readings. This is just to make sure my process of manual grinding and taste profiling reached the point where i was able to constantly repeat the same exercise and bring out consistent results.

is coffee all you do? do you have a day job like the rest of us mere mortals? if so, how do you balance your love for coffee with your everyday work and life?

I work in IT and so far i have been really bad at balancing it. I try to give equal time to both and end up with just 3 hours of sleep. I brew coffee at work everyday using minimalist brewing methods off an office desk. I get all my beans, hand grinder, brewing equipment to work daily and when i get a solid 15 minutes off work, i make sure to craft a brew and enjoy tasting it along with work. Back home after my wife goes to bed i take over the kitchen for the rest of the day. Cupping, trying a new brew method, adjusting brew ratios, pressure profiling my espresso and using the coffee pucks to make bath scrubs happen at night ๐Ÿ™‚

you brew at work!!! WOW! you should win an award just for that!!
speaking of awards, we recently saw you participate in an AeroPress Championship in Delhi. did you win? tell us more.

I have been aeropressing for more than a year and i wanted to see the general reaction in India towards a championship. Having my in-laws in delhi i wanted to go there to participate in the championship. I did not win but i felt i learnt a lot about coffee from my time there. Within 8 minutes from the bean to the cup, you are responsible to make a minimum of 150 ml of coffee. Even an expert in brewing can just fail because the cup at that point of time is tasted by 4 different people and they would choose the cup that agrees to their palate. Competitions like these are needed more in the country to bring out the coffee passion in people and develop more conversations around coffee. I would definitely be participating in more such events where i learn more about the cup that i finally brew.

events like the one at The Farm, Chennai. Tell us a bit more about how coffee has taken you places!

Coffee has taken me to quite a few restaurants and to interesting conversations with people. I love to help cafe’s and restaurants up their game with coffee. Specialty indian coffee doesn’t have to be expensive and difficult to set up. For example i am currently working with a place when i am just bringing out a menu with aero press and a stovetop espresso maker. This is just minimal investment but eventually good coffee in the cup.

add me to the notification list! so we could see viggnesh- the coffee enthusiast become viggnesh – the coffee-preneur soon! where do you see your relationship with coffee in 5 years?

i don’t know the direction i will be heading to, but i see myself helping people adapt to good coffee instead of coffee that has loads of chicory and poor quality beans in it. The only way to reward a farmer who has spent his whole life perfecting the bean produce is to consume it at a fair and direct trade price locally within the country. I would like to start a cafe some day, but till then i would only be a coffee enthusiast and consultant.

what advice would you like to give someone who is interested in coffee and wants to understand the world better?

Buy an Indian bean, grind it fresh with a usual stone mortar at home, boil the grounds in hot water, write down your own proportions, understand the taste, vary the factors – grind size, water level and temperature till you get your perfect cup. You will understand coffee in a much better way when you get your hands in brewing it. This cannot be a daily ritual but people can spend an hour in their weekend by doing this as an activity. This would spark conversations, reading and of course a wonderful cup of coffee. Coffee is one among the most Indian things that we should start appreciating.

Okay, let’s bring this home with some rapid fire questions!

Coffee in One Word! – Elixir

Current Favorite Coffee – Monsoon Malabar

All Time Favorite Coffee – Monsoon Malabar

Favorite Coffee Equipment – Manual Hand Grinder

Favourite Way to have Coffee – Black – Manual Extract

Favourite addition to coffee – Vanilla Pods or Vanilla Cream

i cant not thank you enough for doing this, Mr. Viggnesh! it’s been an absolute pleasure and honor!

happy international day of coffee, folks!

please do leave comments and questions for Mr. Viggnesh down below. i am also linking below his social media handles, where you can bug him about coffee (he is super nice when it comes to coffee questions!)

Viggnesh’s Instagram – link here
Heritage Blend on Instagram – link here
bili hu on Instagram – link here

3 thoughts on “International Coffee Day 2018 : Interview with Viggnesh – The Coffee Enthusiast

  1. Wow! I just chanced upon this blog post when I was searching for something else. Nice to know about (other) coffee enthusiasts at our hometown. Kudo to Viggnesh and MadrasPonnu,

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by. I am so much of a newbie when it comes to coffee. Baby steps. There are so many real and full time coffee enthusiasts in India. Instagram is a great place to find them!

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