Of the German chatter over coffee

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It doesn’t matter if you are a tea or a coffee person- just happening to be one of those many worldly folks who can’t do without either through the course of their days and therefore their life or even as someone who harbours an unflinching allegiance to both makes you ‘eligible’ to be catering to the not so niche reaches that these beverages of legal intoxication are so well brewed, or steeped in. It indeed is a comfort and experience like no other, that cuppa of the drink, whether you prefer it hot or warm and iced or cooled, a potion that ever so readily refreshes you up and makes for an indulgence that is never any less luxurious despite the copious amounts that make up your daily dose of this flavour laced aromatic splash down your throat and along with it soaking also your soul in the rich essence of its earthy hues, making therefore for a daily ritual that you look forward to with religious fervor and devotion, as if it’s almost a potent cure for you ailing humanness. And it indeed is the magical, healing, therapeutic blesses of a whole steaming mug of joe or tea, devoured at leisure, every gulp of it redolent in a warmth that feels so wholesome, lending us forever to dwell therefore on the many miracles it sets about to attain, eliciting from our minds a mumble jumble of words and phrases and emotions so evocative that has us go on for (web)pages and (web)pages of free expression and professing about the maverick that a single cup of this elixir can turn out to be.

And for everyone like us out there in this whole wide world who do not even need the reassurance that they aren’t alone, for one couldn’t really care any less when the solitary wandering in such case is something as essential for life as the world’s couple most favorite beverages, we still have tales to share and feels to vibe in that makes this experience all the more worthy of the constant hype it generates throughout the world in its many nook and corners. Today’s stopover that trailing the aroma of intoxication has led us into is the land of Germany that is known for its coffee and cake culture, the Kaffee und Kuchen Kultur, expected quite out of a nation that is the region of origin of what is one of the most popular flavors of cake eaten anywhere in the world- the black forest. And while there is not as much nativity prevalent in the sphere of the kaffee in Germany, the iconic manner in which coffee and cake has always been so indispensably related to each other makes also this European nation as steeped in its conversations around coffee as any other.

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There’s a very universal way in which tea and coffee is enjoyed by folks who sip on their brew religiously every day, with cookies and biscuits, with cakes and pies, with cream and syrup, or in one way or the other. But there’s also a manner beyond the reaches of the culinary that completes this whole experience of indulgence, sometimes in everyday fashion, sometimes as part of occasional rendezvous, but still universal nonetheless, that makes the whole tea time affair or the coffee clock routine a matter of significance beyond what it does along the gulps and the sips. The reference here is to a facet of human behavior that serves no purpose and serves many all at once but what it most importantly does, even without striving for it, is the forging of a connect between individuals or in fact the furthering of prevailing ones, thereby making for a heartily perfect routine that simmers relationships in just the right amount accompanied by the rightfully simmering brew to go with it. The notions might sound philosophical, at least as afforded by our discussion, but that is the impact that the cuppa nurturing me at the moment has led the mind into. Throughout the prevalent Indian context of addas revving up even the most basic cup of chai, even when chai is already, always and innately especial or the many conversations that happen globally over a cup of coffee, with or without bakes and goodies to further fancy up the cosy settings of conviviality, the ruling of sorts remain the same- of talks and tales and lores that go the extra mile in making your sizzling affair with the cuppa all the more interesting!

Talks however are far less exciting a prospect that coffees allow for, in Germany or for that matter, anywhere else in the world. What would be a better representation of the pleasurable satisfaction that finds its way inevitably into the confounding clarity of a cup of frothy coffee is perhaps most identified in all its relatability when we replace instead mundane talks of the day with the spicy sizzles of the gossip that so characterise every strata of our existence, knowingly or unknowingly. And so ingrained is this way of life in every gathering over the caffeine stuff that finds expression in different cultures differently. Like in Germany where its Kaffee und Kuchen Kultur encompasses also the phenomenon of what is known as the Kaffeeklatsch. Translating loosely as coffee chatter, this is a lifestyle so embedded within the German tradition that it continues to enjoy place of eminence to this day within the realms of the cultural pertaining to this nation of people, though in lesser spread than what it existed as back in the day. Rooted in times of the 16th and 17th centuries when coffee had started making inroads into the German way of life, the present expression of the Kaffeeklatsch culture might have evolved later in the day but still bears the essence of what it followed. Back then, it were the laundresses who used to wash one’s dirty linens in public as they went on smacking about garments and along with the clothes rattling about the speculations and rumours of the day, gossiping with each other in all zest and excitement as if it were something they did for a living! This ‘smacking’ is what led to the development of the corresponding term klatsch though the coffee element prefixed itself to it sometime later. As caffeine emerged to be a veritable ingredient of life and the norms of the time not favouring the access of the femalefolk to only men’s pubs and bars, the upper class German ladies started socialising in their homes instead, inviting fellow women to coffees and cakes for sessions of what turned out to be fun bonding. And while cups clinked and cake recipes were exchanged and the finest of cutlery made their presence felt on the coffee table, there also ensued a parallel steaming of conversations, often of the most juicy gossip and saucy secrets that afforded the development of a close knit circle of friends who began to engage in these enjoyable sessions of chatting over coffee in far more regularity thus leading to the formation of what would be the culture of kaffeeklatsch.

More prominent has kaffeeklatsch been within the cultural realm of the country since the 1900s, with the timeline corresponding to the more amalgamating Kaffee und Kuchen Kultur that Germany essentially lives through even today. Generally an afternoon affair reserved for the weekends when friends and family would all gather together for coffee- and cakes of course- and indulge in hearty conversations and mindless chit chats, the present manifestation of the whole Kaffeklatsch experience might be less rooted in eliciting the thrill of digging in the guilty pleasure of gossiping and embody more an opportunity to unwind and relax. The thrill today lives in perhaps seeking out the simple joys of life that matter, such as cups of good coffee, slices of decadent cakes and of course the warmth of everlasting relationships founded on the sweet premises of love and laughter. The klatsch element might have been the one to gain precedence over coffee at the time when the phenomenon started to gain ground but the whole idea has evolved to give way to more myriad dimensions that have gained value in the modern mode of existence. Nevertheless though, the whole kaffeeklatsch culture continues to be imbibed deeply into the German tradition of delighting over its coffees and cakes with conversations making for an interesting third element of connecting with the charm of either, one that so many other cultures of the world also collectively rely on, albeit in connotations that are somewhat different from the others and therefore in experiences and notions that are remarkably unique despite all their similarly set premises of indulgence founded on the intoxicating allure of coffee (or tea, if you so wish).


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