Article by Nikhil Agarwal for Yuva Magazine

I didn’t always know what I wanted to do but I knew exactly what I didn’t want to do!

I didn’t want to be just another extension number in a big fancy office, didn’t want to sign a muster at 8:59am, or carry an Id card around my neck to go to work every single day.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved all my jobs considering that most of my career I have worked for wine companies that were very cool to be a part of and through working for them I realized that wine for me is where home is!

I fell in love with wine.

The idea that the reason that someone out there is drinking and enjoying wine is because I played some part in getting that wine to them or introducing that wine or wine style to them gives me a big high. I always wondered how many people across India were drinking wine on a Saturday night that I helped push down the supply chain.

The more I got involved in wine the more I more wanted to learn about wine. I also developed a serious passion for talking about wine and I derived tremendous joy from turning people onto wine. I soon realized that this was my mission in life – to take consumption of wine in India to world class standards. I wasn’t about to go save the world but I definitely wanted to make it more pleasurable via what we drink and what we eat. Sounds corny, it is but who cares.

But this is all a dream that is far from reality and let me tell you the process of getting people onto wine isn’t easy.

Starting your own business can be one of life’s most fulfilling experiences but it’s also a motherf^%f*%^ker. Be prepared for one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

I have worked for other people for over 12 years but always dreamt of starting something that was my own. Most people dream, you just have to get serious about what you want to do and go about doing it. Leave aside fears, your business may not succeed but at least you gave it a shot. You wont go through life thinking ‘what if’ ? And if you give it all that you have plus more you will succeed.

Success comes in a simple formula – hard work x time = Ferrari or Louis Vuitton ,whatever tickles your fancy !

Each and every one of us in our own way is qualified to be an entrepreneur; you just need to have an idea and an excellent execution plan.

Most people already know what they want to do but for some reason, social, financial, spousal etc they don’t take the plunge; they don’t give in to doing what their heart desires.

So I guess my first piece of advice is to listen to that voice inside you that keeps telling you maybe I want to be starting a photography business instead on this job that does not interest me.

Make a document, your venture bible of sorts of all the people who can help you, clients you know off, clients people you know may know off, your assets, costs and an estimation for when you think you will break even.

Think think think , network network network, get your brand name ready, logo designed and your website up and running and your brochures printed for each and every meeting. Depending on the type of business your in and sales projected get your sales tax number/ service tax number etc.

Take a business loan if required but before you go to a bank for a loan have a clear strategy in mind. You must convince them that not only is your plan fantastic and your product saleable but you yourself need to inspire confidence, you need to sell your concept to a banks loan manager who will not have as much knowledge as you do about your product and its market neither the passion you have.

Find out everything about market dynamics, who the major buyers are, what are the buying, what influences their buying decisions. Who they currently are buying from, who your competitors and at what price or what quality are their products or services.

In a nutshell research and then top it off with some more research. You must know everything there is to know about your market place.

For me it’s wine. For you it may be medicine, banking, fashion, sports, advertising, movie making, jewelry designing, hospitality, web design, or diversifying the family business… whatever it may be…! The world is your oyster !

You gotta do your own thing, love what you do, and wake up wanting to get to work every morning!

Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and Director at All Things Nice –

Health Benefits of Wine

So what’s all the fuss about? Is wine really good for you or is it some clever marketing gimmick that a wine brand manager thought up? No, not one bit. There is clear proven reasoning why wine, especially red wine, is good for you. Here’s a look at why –

In the beginning wine was used in very early times by healers and priests who used wine not only for healing but for religious purposes as well. Wine was considered safer to drink than water at the time and therefore right form the start wine has always been considered somewhat of an alternative medicine or a drink with mysterious health benefits.

Red wine, more than white wine is rich in a compound called phenolics (sometimes call polyphenolics).These phenolics are derived from the skin (dark skin gives red wine its colour), stalk etc of the grape. These particular compounds have anti oxidant properties.

One of the many phenolic compounds found in wine that has gained considerable attention is Resveratol which has potent anti oxidant properties. This is also found in green tea which is also known for being good for ones health; don’t take my word for it ask the Chinese.

Any alcohol in MODERATE amounts is widely believed to be good for ones health including spirits and beer. The word moderate here is key and most countries have issued guidelines on what moderate drinking should be in terms of standard drinks per day per person.

The health benefits of wine became widely known in 1991 when the American TV show 60 minutes did a programme discussing how people in France were indulging themselves in eating a diet rich in fat no less and drinking copious amounts of wine without any bad effects on their health in comparison to their American counterparts. This is now commonly known as the French Paradox. The answer they found was in their habit of drinking wine and also the method in which they consumed it i.e. with their meals. The show overnight changed the fortunes of many wineries and producers and world over sales of red wine went through the roof!

Similar studies in Italy have also shown that drinking with meals also reduces the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases.

The biggest advantage of drinking wine is its effects on coronary heart disease. A moderate amount of alcohol improves the balance between the harmful and beneficial forms of cholesterol and helps in the thinning of blood. Wine has also been linked in its effects on reducing the risk of certain kinds of cancers but there is not enough research to substantiate this accurately. It can help people with respiratory problems however can trigger wheezing in asthmatics due to presence of sulfites. This is why you will find that most wine labels will mention “Contains Sulfites’. Wine has also been linked to prevention of loss of vision with age, lowering the risk of non insulin dependant diabetes.

For weight watchers dry wines have fewer calories than other spirits or beers, especially spirits that are consumed with mixers.

Nobody advocates drinking copious amounts of wine or any alcohol to get incremental health benefits, infact that will do serious harm. However, there is a feeling backed by proof that moderate drinking is better for you than heavy drinking quite obviously but also better than not drinking at all.

On that note, I wish you compliments of the season and urge you to try and drink sensibly…Cheers !

Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and Director at All Things Nice –

Article by Nikhil Agarwal for Mumbai Touch Down

I like women and women like me but that’s definitely not enough when you reach the dating-and-beyond stage. After spending a large part of my life in the company of some fine women, I have learnt to understand the art of detail. The thing being, who has the goddamn time??

The mounting workload, the clocking of incessant air miles and the perpetual deadlines leave little room for romance. However, in my journey to find the best wines and cheese located in different pockets of the world I had an epiphany, one that allows you to mix business with pleasure.

Wooing your partner with some fine wine and carefully paired cheese is a heady mix of detail and planning, couple that with a perfect location and you have a sure shot at whatever you are aiming for. Putty in your hands, so to speak.

Wine and Cheese is like Laurel & Hardy, Guns & Roses, Bill & Hillary, and other combinations that are frequently better than either independently. But be careful, you need to do the pairing properly to ensure maximum please and any cheese with any wine will not work. Regions or vineyards that produce fantastic wine usually have very high culinary standards and cheese is an integral part of the whole experience.

You don’t have to know a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chardonnay to appreciate these destinations – they offer as much peace and scenery as they do great wines. Here’s a look at some destinations that are a winner every time.

We will start off with our very own Nasik. I would recommend making a trip to Sula Vineyards which has done an excellent job in creating a wonderful wine experience. Their tasting room with its breath taking view is one of the most perfect places on the planet in the evenings especially in the colder months. You could head to York Winery which is further down the road for more excellent wine and cheese with an even more dramatic view and then bring the evening to a close less than a km further down the road at Sula’s 21 room only hotel Beyond.

In Akluj, ahead of Pune is the state of the art Fratelli Vineyards with impressive accommodations literally in the middle of nowhere. Get them to hook up a scrumptious sun downer and dinner in their lookout point over the vineyards which are a little away from the winery/rooms for you and your partner. You will have never seen anything like it.

All the above wineries serve generous portions of assorted cheese as accompaniments ensuring that your taste buds are in heaven.

Away from India, if you are heading to the west coast in the United States, I suggest you make a trip to Napa Valley and its surrounding areas which are littered with wineries producing excellent wine. The wineries have tasting rooms, a restaurant or two and rooms that are perfect for some alone time. They even have spa’s so you have an opportunity to go completely all out in pampering her.

Bordeaux in France is another of my favourites; the city is mesmerizing with unbelievable architecture. If you are into wine, this is your mecca and every street corner has cafés and restaurants dishing out incredible cuisine, glorious French cheese with a wine list to match. You can also hire a car and drive into the adjoining vineyard regions, visit some grand Chateaux and carry a picnic basket to make a stop wherever your heart desires. Make sure you make a trip to Saint Emillion, a medieval town on the right of the river Gironde that produces top wines and is simply drop dead gorgeous.

One cannot talk about wine and cheese and of course romance and not bring Italy into the picture. Head to Tuscany, rent a villa or park yourself in the middle of a vineyard and take in the fantastic wines and gastronomy. Maybe after a glass or two you can tell her how much you love her in Italian? Try Castello di Quercetto, a legendary wine producing house with over a 100 years of history. I highly recommend renting one of their apartments and spending some quality time there. Open a bottle of two of their Super Tuscans and she will not be able to resist you. Additionally, your only 25 kilometers away from the lovely city of Florence ! Need I say more? Veneto is another region within Italy that produces fine wine, and with Venice one of the worlds most romantic spots as its main city you cannot go wrong.

In the southern hemisphere if you are travelling to Australia, especially the Southeast of Australia make a trip to the wonderful wine growing regions of Barossa and Mclaren Vale. Try their full bodied reds from the Shiraz grape varietal paired with some local delicacies. I highly recommend visiting the Woodstock Estate in Mclaren Vale for some fabulous hospitality and a charming setting. New Zealand is full of stunning beauty, wineries producing top class wines and world class cheese. Take a trip to Marlborough and visit the legendary Cloudy Bay winery. Also visit the charming Clos Henri winery for an old world kind of wine experience.

There is of course a lot more countries and regions to visit but this should keep you busy for a while and in your partners good books. There are thousands of cheese and endless wines and I hope that you spend a lifetime time taking in their pleasures along with your partner.

Cheers to good loving!

Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and Director at All Things Nice –

Article by Nikhil Agarwal for Restaurant Week India Magazine

Folks I’m going to keep this simple. Wine isn’t rocket science, in fact nothing is rocket science except of course rocket science itself.

To begin your path to vinous discovery you must taste in order to choose wines effectively. Sounds like fun? It is. Feel free; take a sip from the glass of the fellow on the next table if you must. The more you taste the better. Build a memory bank of wine flavours. The more you taste the more you will understand the differences between grape varieties, regions and most importantly the style of wine that you like and don’t like.

To make it easy some restaurant wine lists have the tasting notes of the wine mentioned below the wine, if it sounds appealing to you, go for it. Don’t be afraid to ask your server for some advise, this however I must caution you only works in select places, like the ones I consult for example. The tasting note on the back of a bottle will give you a lot of information as well incase your buying from a retail store.

Sure you’ll pick a few duds in the process but it will only make you enjoy the good ones more and I predict if you give yourself enough time you’ll be picking winners every time, making you the pride of your family and joy of your town.

Wine and food when paired correctly is a match made in heaven. But don’t get too wrapped up in the technicality of it all, just have fun with it. Keep in mind the weight, texture and flavours including sweetness and acidity of the food and find a wine with characteristics that matches them or in some cases you could also try contrasting them.

Experiment, you’ll get it in no time. In fact, because there are just so many styles of wine you could find a style of wine for pretty much any kind of food out there.

Ever tried a Vada Pao with that deadly red masala with a Chardonnay aged in American oak? No ? Well neither have I but it could be fun to try!

Indian wine can offer more value than an imported counter part but all in all it’s still relatively expensive to drink wine in India. It’s expensive because the duties on wine are very high, some of the highest in the world. Expensive because of high margins applied by hotels and restaurants and ridiculous demands from retail outlets. Also sometimes because importers and producers think they can charge a higher value and get away with it. Last but not least the truestest reason for high prices is because there is more demand than the producers and importers of wine in India can supply……..well not really but even Sommeliers have dreams !

Nikhil Agarwal- Sommelier and Director at All Things Nice –

Nikhil Agarwal interviews Albert Adria

Nikhil interviews Albert Adria, one of the most acclaimed chefs in the world and brother of Ferran at their new restaurant- Tickets.

I was in Barcelona recently, as a pit stop after a visit to Priorat, a truly beautiful wine region in Spain not too far from the city. This region produces beautiful wines that are gaining popularity around the world, they are also some of Spain’s most expensive wine offerings. While in Barcelona I was intent to eat at Tickets which is the famed brothers – Ferran and Albert Adria’s new restaurant after closing the legendary and path breaking El Bulli.

El Bulli was considered until very recently the best restaurant in the world but perhaps only not the best anymore because the brothers closed the restaurant for good. I tugged and pulled, bullied and pleaded and succeeded in  getting myself a reservation at Tickets. This restaurant normally has a two month plus waiting list and to add to my good fortune, as a bonus, I got to spend time with Chef Albert Adria himself.

What was the Idea behind Tickets?

We wanted to create a traditional yet sophisticated take on the regular Spanish tapas bar. To take the concept of the everyday tapas bar and make it more fine dining yet retaining the casualness of a tapas bar.

Do you plan to open any restaurants outside of Barcelona?

We have a lot of opportunities today to open restaurants all over the world but at the moment we do not want to. We may open a restaurant in London. We don’t have the team to open up more restaurants.

Your fascination with food started with?

I started working in the kitchen when I was 15 years old, I started working in the kitchen only because I needed to work but soon I fell in love with food and the kitchen.

What’s the secret to opening amazing restaurants?

When we closed El Bulli, we were had a lot of experience and a great team. This team allows us to take all the ideas that we have in our minds and make it a reality. We understand what people want.

Why did you close El Bulli ?

El Bulli was a train running at a very high speed and it was like we had to keep feeding the train to ensure that it stayed at that speed. At the end we were just tired.

This train allowed us to learn a lot, we became known around the world and it is the best moments in my life and the life of Ferran. We are the same team but we are older and with families, it was time to move on. We also wanted to close El Bulli at its peak.

Do you have the same ways of thinking with Ferran ?

We speak the same language but have different personalities. We discuss a lot and find middle ground.

In which direction is Spanish gastronomy going?

It is a contradiction, on one hand we want to be avant- garde and on the other we want to hold onto tradition.

What’s new in Spanish cuisine?

It is not easy to find something new now but perhaps we can see what we can bring back from history. Things have changed; the world is a much smaller place now. Now I can get ingredients from India, South America and Africa for example. Thanks to the internet I can see the menu’s of restaurants all over the world. Information is easy and to take new directions in food or borrow from different cultures is on our fingertips.

Do you believe in using ingredients from all over the world ?

Tickets is 95% Spanish and besides a few things here or there we are proud to showcase Catalan cuisine using the finest local ingredients.

Could you explain Molecular Gastronomy?

Unfortunately I cannot explain it. I was talking to a journalist the first time we used nitrogen and somehow we got tagged as purveyors of molecular gastronomy. We wrote a letter to the entire media saying that we do not believe in molecular gastronomy, all we believe is in a good kitchen and a bad kitchen. The customer is not interested in molecular gastronomy. I may give him a variation of an olive but if he doesn’t like the taste of that olive we have failed. At the end every cuisine of the world depends on only one thing, the quality of the ingredient.

To make a great olive recipe you need to ensure you have the best olives, we make sure we get the best and that’s it. For the customer, the experience is just 2 seconds; we only have those 2 seconds to give them a burst of flavours.

We serve customers from around the world, which is difficult, 50 % of our customers are foreigners, we want to make a menu for everybody. So we cannot say that we do or understand what molecular gastronomy is.

When I was on my way to Tickets I was excited, finally I was going to have the Adria experience. Do you realize the level of impact you have had on people who love food?

The entire team knows that there are people waiting to have dinner or lunch at our restaurant and we take this responsibility very seriously. We want to make sure that we do the best with every lunch or dinner seating.

What is the reason behind calling the restaurant Tickets?

The area where Tickets is located was like Broadway so we called it Tickets. The doors are like a cinema door. You come in for a show, for an experience.

You use emotion in food, my ice cream that I ordered was served in a way that reminded me of my childhood. ( It was served by someone riding an icecream cart to my table and ringing the cycle bell to inform me that it had arrived).

For us the most important thing is the food. We can play with emotion, we can create flash backs to when make people were young, but in the end the quality of the food is the most important to me. And really that’s all. Everything else, emotion, changing shapes and sizes is important but not as important as the food. We should not only do play food but also serious food. I am serious when I am fooling around with food.

As told to Nikhil Agarwal, Director & Sommelier – All Things Nice

Around the world with wine

Published in Diva  |  Written by Nikhil Agarwal

At the close of another great I’m thinking we leave the known and take the plunge with what’s new out there to be discovered. The unfamiliar, the also brilliant to be the thrill to discovery.

Chateau Paul Mas Clos de Mures from the Languedoc Rousillion region in the South of France has been my latest discovery. This red offers so much complexity, punching way above its class.

In the USA, I’m going to suggest Eroica Riesling from Chateau St. Michelle produced in Washington State. Not necessarily a region we are familiar with but these guys are producing wines of very high quality and yet they offer great value for money in comparison to their more famous US regional counterparts.

I thought we’d step of the beaten track and pick a wine from a region that is general not associated with wine from the USA. Eroica Riesling from Chateau St.Michelle is a truly outstanding wine that represents just how classy wines from Washington State can get.

My pick for Chile has got to be the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon which offers value and just pure class.

I absolutely love the Gruner Veltliner grape variety which is responsible for the fantastic whites from Austria. If you can get your hands on producers like Schloss Gobelsburg or Joseph Donabaum I bet you will be writing to me thanking me for introducing you to this.



New Zealand, let try a Cabernet Sauvignon from Hawkes Bay.

South Africa





From India the Myra Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc is a fantastic expression of the grape variety. Racy acidity with just the right balance of fruit and herbaceous characteristics.


Ok, so you’ve got some cash that you want to invest otherwise you’ll blow it all. The Euro crisis makes the equity market a jittery proposition and unless you’re South Indian you don’t see value in gold at the current prices. So you think hmm, what about whisky as an investment?

From a marketing perspective on the side of the brand I say go for it, spend your money on collecting these bottles of precious gems that will make you manhood seem more substantial and make you more confident. Oops sorry I digress, the thing is and to be perfectly honest, I’m on the fence on this one.

What good is a whisky really if it just keeps getting passed from one fellow to the other without being enjoyed. It isn’t going to get better with age (yes it will get rarer I understand). There has to be some fruition of all the efforts of the people behind the bottle that can only happen when someone enjoys it. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of the hottest permanent virgin on the planet, what’s the point?

Lets however step out of this passionate robe that still has the beautiful aroma of last nights whisky and discuss this with my maroo money making hat on. Should we treat whisky like a commodity and buy a few bottles or perhaps even a barrel or two to sell at a later date to make a tidy profit like wine futures or En Primieur ?

Sure I say, but be cautious, like all investments a significant percentage increase is required to make the risk worth taking, this will take time, its isn’t likely to happen with a 4 to 5 year horizon.  Markets fluctuate and so will the value of the stock you hold, do you have the chops to hold on or will it push you to taking to the bottle? Think about how your going to store or keep them safe – will the trader or distillery keep them for you? Is there a warehousing charge? You could buy them and keep your investment with them and sell it when you think the time is right.

Our aim if we are looking to buy whiskey as an investment and not to collect is very simply money. For now forget perhaps how we will manage to buy and sell whisky legally in India as consumers without the proper licenses and excise parameters. Perhaps you could buy a couple of bottles when you travel abroad, bring it in and then sell it here in India but it will all have to be done with your sneaky bugger hat on.

The brand, the year, the distillery’s pedigree, or whether it’s shutting down, the rarity of the whisky is all-important. Watch the price of your holding on various whisky exchange websites, be in the know, be mindful of exchange rates and only buy what you can afford to drink or lose.

At the end of it I have to admit there is something about drinking something that was made in another era, another time when perhaps you weren’t even around. Just to travel back in time through whisky somehow, that’s always going to be special and there will always be someone with enough money to pay for that experience.

If you think you can get the margins go for it, as long as you love whisky I think. Because if nothing else, you could always drink it!

By Nikhil Agarwal, Director & Sommelier – All Things Nice

A Few Thoughts About Coffee

Subspecies of Coffee Plant

2 major types:

Robusta: about 36% of global production

High caffeine content, can survive in a broader climatic range, strong coffee taste, produces thick “crema” in Espresso

Arabica: ca. 60% of global production

More expensive, slightly lower caffeine content, plant is a bit more delicate, more complex range in aroma, produces less “crema”.

Italian Mixtures are typically a mix of Robusta and Arabica, in varying parts. A small percentage of Robusta (10-25%) does by no means imply lesser quality, even though some experts may say so. On the contrary, it can cut off the edges and make for a more pleasant, “rounder” experience.

Provenances & Specialties

This list can of course not be exhaustive. There are so many coffee producing countries around the globe, so this could easily fill a book. Let me just mention a few that come to my mind immediately:

Ethiopia (Sidamo Province): Original habitat of the coffee plant. High genetic variety. Beans are quite small, complex in aroma, sometimes stunning fruity undertones. Mild and delicate, perfect for Espresso but not for Milk Coffees, as the aromas are too fragile.

Middle & South America (Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico etc.): Very diverse range of coffees. Some nuttiness in flavor is what they have in common. Brazil is mass production and cheapest. Peruvian Highland coffees can be very tender and delicate. Colombian on the other hand usually has a very strong nutty, spicy chocolate flavor. None of this can be generalized though, as many other factors (like roasting) play an at least equally important part.

The most highly praised (and priced) variety is Jamaican “Blue Mountain”, which costs easily 100US$++ per kg.  Another highly praised variety is Hawaii Kona. Both of these very expensive coffees are usually not used for Espresso, but should better be prepared with a French Press (more about that later).

India: The “Monsooned Malabar” has become extremely popular among European Espresso lovers over the past few years. The raw beans are exposed to the rains and start fermenting, which creates complex chocolate aromas. It produces huge amounts of “crema” and is also very good for Cappuccino and Milk Coffee. The micro roaster where I get my coffee from told me that this is by far his best selling variety.

Others: In Africa, Kenya and other countries produce top quality coffees, in Asia, Indonesia is particularly noteworthy. Sulawesi and Bali coffees enjoy high praise.

Indonesia is also responsible for an abomination called “Kopi Luwak”. The most expensive coffee in the world, hyped excessively by the media over the past few years, and cherished by people who don’t know how to spend their money responsibly.

It is collected from the dung of Asian Palm Civets who have before eaten the whole coffee berry. The digestive enzymes of these mammals are responsible for fermentation processes in the bean, and this coffee can reach prices as high as 6.000 US$ per kg.

No surprise then, that these poor creatures are now caught in the wild, kept in cages under horrible circumstances and force fed coffee berries.

Needless to say that there are lots of fake Kopi Luwak on the market as well.


With darker roast, acidity is gradually removed and replaced by a more bitter and also sweeter note.

There are two important factors here: Temperature and Duration.

Mass Manufacturers will roast the beans for a short time at high temperatures (500 Celsius for 2 minutes). Small roasters and blenders (micro roasters) will go for 200 degrees at 15-18 minutes instead, producing a more full-bodied, less bitter product.

European Standard Filter Coffee will be roasted until golden brown, French roast would be slightly darker, while Italian (Espresso) roast will appear dark brown to almost black.


For a really good result, it is imperative to grind the beans just in time before preparing the coffee. Ready ground coffee will have lost all the volatile oils that make the aroma. An hour in the open is enough and it will all be gone.

Equally important is to choose a suitable grinder. The particles of the flour should ideally be all of the same size, and the grinder should not heat up during grinding, as to preserve all those precious volatile oils as well as possible. Also it should be finely adjustable in order to allow you to carefully choose the coarseness of the powder.

There are two different types of good coffee grinders: Cone based and disk based. There are no distinct advantages to either. Just choose a good one.

A common household mixer will not work, as it doesn’t grind the beans but rather chops them into different sized pieces.


For the connoisseur, there’s only three different ways to make coffee.

So, I will omit the obviously brain-dead ones like the German Filter Coffee method, for example.

Mokka (Greek/Turkish/Middle Asian Style):

This is the most ancient and original way to prepare coffee. The beans are ground very thin, and the flour is topped with hot water and plenty of sugar, then stirred, so that the flour sets on the bottom.

Strong, nice, and best served in small cups after a rich meal.

French Press:

The coffee should be ground quite coarsely for this one.

Hot water (90 Celsius) is being poured over the powder, and after several minutes a metal piston with a sieve is pushed down, containing the powder at the bottom of the jug.

This is the preferred method for very valuable coffees as it allows to discern a lot of different aromas and does not require the beans to be roasted too dark.

Served in standard tea cups (250ml) and suitable for all situations (morning, afternoon, with cakes and cookies).


This is the most difficult, yet for me the most rewarding way to prepare coffee.

Expensive equipment and a lot of technique are required, while the learning curve is steep.

The perfect Espresso is brewed at 90-95 degrees Celsius, at 9-10 bar pressure, within strictly 22-28 seconds for a portion of 25-30ml, using 7-8g coffee powder for each.

Anything that falls short of any of these parameters is not to be called “Espresso Coffee”.

The beans are roasted darker than for any other preparation style.

The grind has to be adjusted every day according to temperature and humidity in order to fulfill the above requirements.

Obviously, a dedicated Coffee Machine has to be used (for example an “Isomac Zaffiro”, which would be one of the cheapest at around 800 US$).

The perfect Espresso has “Crema” on top that resists a spoon of sugar for at least one second. It has no obvious bitter or acidic overtones and unfolds a silky smooth array of flavours in the mouth.

It is best enjoyed by itself in the afternoon (maybe with a cookie) or as the final digestive after a sumptuous meal in the evening. Sometimes the cup is being “cleaned” with a shot of whisky, grappa or brandy while still warm.

Cappuccino is a single or double espresso shot topped with foamed milk. A Caffè Latte (or Latte Macchiato) features even more milk, so the double shot will be topped up with approximately 200ml of foamed, hot milk.

This is traditionally strictly reserved for breakfast. Come noon, a normal or double Espresso Shot is the only viable option.

Originally confined to Italy, this method of coffee making has by now spread across the whole of Europe and is even slowly gaining momentum and gathering fans in the US (where some people are already starting to take perfectionism to the next level).

The larger portions of coffee, like from a French Press, you can of course (and many do) have a full slice of cake.

Same like with tea, actually. Also, I wouldn’t see any reason why for instance a samosa or a piece of onion pakora should be wrong.

The sugar thing is one of those things. Some self proclaimed experts say you mustn’t add anything. I say that’s BS.

I for example NEED sugar in my espresso, because else all I taste is bitterness. I would say this is highly individual and probably even determined genetically.

The “longer” coffees, like from the French Press, instead I enjoy most with a few drops(!) of milk, but without sugar.

Here’s more about the French Press:

The French typically don’t drink “real” Espresso. They serve what is called “Schümli” in Switzerland (from “Schaum” = German for “Foam”).

It is basically an espresso brewed with more water and the powder ground on the coarse side.

The opposite would be the italian “doppio ristretto” which means, even less water is used than in a regular espresso, i.e. 20ml instead of 30. Doppio ristretto (“double restricted”) then is 40ml made from 15g coffee powder (2 portions).

Another way to turn an espresso into a full cup size drink would be the “Americano”, where a regular

double espresso (60 ml) would be topped up with hot water.

There’s yet another way to make a coffee similar to espresso, yet very different, and also sometimes falsely termed “espresso”, which is very popular in both France and Italy, and that’s the stovetop machine (often called “Bialetti” after its most prominent manufacturer).

The popularity comes from the low cost of such a “machine” and the comparatively nice results.

Check it out here:

The major disadvantage is that the water has to boil in order to produce the pressure, which means it will always exceed the optimum brewing temperature of 90 degrees.

By Nikhil Agarwal, Director & Sommelier – All Things Nice