To be frank, the culture of coffee is a foreign trend in Tamil Nadu. Even though we have coffee shops bearing native names, the place of origin for coffee is not Tamil Nadu. In olden days, Tamil Nadu and its people had ‘nerajaram’ which means rice water as their favourite beverage. And it contains a lot of strength which helped the manual workers, including fisheries. Surprisingly, still drinking ‘nerjaram’ is the practice of many manual workers.
Originally, coffee based Ethiopia as its birth place. And it reached Tamil Nadu when the British colonized India along with its twin beverage tea. In the introduction days, coffee was undermined with great suspicion by the native in Tamil Nadu. Seeing the texture and the colour of coffee, many compared coffee to alcohol. Hence, it was not for the British to introduce coffee to Indians, especially to the people of Tamil Nadu.
Eventually, the negativity started to fade with the help of the so-called elite community leaders. Since the common people were obeying the community leaders, the British began to target them to trade the coffee to Tamil Nadu. Gradually, coffee became the icon of modernization, wealth and people started to substitute the cultural drink ‘nerajaram’ for coffee. The transition time was so competitive, and the tug of war between coffee and ‘nerajaram’ was heavy. Nevertheless, coffee became the most consumed beverage by the people of Tamil Nadu over the years.
As days passed by, there was a period of innovation. Flavours of different kinds were discovered. So to say, the filter coffee prepared by the people of Tamil Nadu was stronger than the British made filter coffee. Moreover, the admiration it brought towards the filter coffee is still present in the hearts of the native people. Hence, when we trace the history of coffee in Tamil Nadu, it’s the foreign-brought beverage which overtook the natural and traditional beverages of Tamil Nadu. However, it is good to see that the benefits of coffee are tremendous today.