The people in southern India drink a milk kaapi (coffee) called filter coffee.
A variety of Arabica and Robusta coffee is grown in Tamil Nadu, mainly in the Nilgiris District.
The “Decoction” Method
They use the “decoction” method where the stems, bark, roots, and rhizomes are boiled to extract the oil and other chemical substances.
This method of extraction differs from infusion and percolation, but the resulting substance is similar.
In India, the decoction is about 80% coffee beans and 20% chicory. The chicory is used to darken the coffee and to make it stronger tasting.
Indian Filter Coffee Recipe
The decoction is brewed with a metal device made up of two cylindrical cups. One part has a pierced bottom and sits on the tumbler cup.
There is room underneath to gather the brewed coffee. The upper part has a pierced pressing disc with a central stem handle, with a removable lid.
Here’s a quick video to show you how coffee decoction is done.
The fresh ground coffee is put into the upper cup and mixed with the chicory. The grounds are gently compressed with the stemmed disc into a uniform layer across the cup’s pierced bottom.
With the disc left in place, the upper cup is nested into the top of the tumbler and boiling water is poured inside. With the lid in place, the brewed coffee slowly drips down. The chicory holds the hot water longer, giving the extraction more flavor and a stronger taste.
Two tablespoons of this potent brew are added to a cup of boiling milk. Add sugar to taste. The coffee is cooled and then sipped from the tumbler with a dabarah, which is a wide metal saucer with lipped walls.
Now for the fun … the coffee is poured back and forth between the dabarah and the tumbler in huge arc-like motions. This mixes the ingredients (including sugar) thoroughly.
The hot coffee is cooled by this motion so that it can be sipped. The coffee drink is aerated without adding extra water, such as is done from a steam wand when making cappuccino. It is not easy to master this way.
Check this out and decide for yourself if you want to try this move…
A Success Story
Arvind Srinivas and his wife Savitri, live and work in Mumbai India, population 12 million +. Look up Arvind Srinivas on Facebook.
They make the best coffee in the Mumbai, India, and it is delivered to your door within 7 days of placing the order at Rs 550 per kg.
The couple’s mission is to help Mumbaikars appreciate south Indian filter coffee, especially the famous Kumbakonam variety.
Srinivas and his wife have a partner by the name of Parameshwar K R. It was his idea that the Srinivas go into the coffee business.
Parameshwar sourced the best coffee powder they needed from a temple town in Tamil Nadu called Kumbakonam in the south of India.
This town has been the center for filter coffee for a long time, and now it is time for over 12 million Indians in Mumbai to appreciate the best coffee ever.
When the couple moved to Mumbai from Pondicherry in 1990, the Srinivas and Parameshwar spent a good part of their time hunting for authentic coffee powder.
They finally found the perfect beans from a shop in Kumbakonam. What made this coffee powder special was the absence of chicory. Most coffee makers add the tap root chicory to make the coffee darker. Chicory has a strong taste and it overpowers the true flavor of the coffee bean.
The other factor that differentiates great coffee from average coffee is the method of roasting the beans. Roasting them on a skillet isn’t enough. Many Indians make coffee that way.
For Savitri, it was time to educate all those coffee drinkers in India.
Savitri is a perfectionist too. She is a great cook and willing to share her recipes. She doesn’t hold back any secrets on how to make the perfect cup either.
Here is her secret filter coffee recipe … Spread it around!
“Fill half the percolator in the stainless steel coffee brewer with the powder. It can be more, but never less. Pour boiling water into the filter and place the lid to ensure the aroma and flavor don’t escape. The decoction should always be hot. If by evening, it cools down, don’t heat it directly or after mixing it with milk — that kills the taste.
Instead, place the decoction in a small vessel and slip it into a container holding boiling water. It will get warm without losing its essence. Then, there is the slight detail of how to drink the coffee. Fancy mugs don’t work. It’s the davara-tumbler utensil combination you need to invest in, and pour the coffee back and forth before taking a sip. It gives the coffee a good froth while enhancing its taste. It is essential to the coffee-making process.”
Who Are The Self-Confessed Filter Coffee Addicts?
There are many well known Indian personalities in Mumbai who can’t work without a strong filter coffee, such as cartoonist R.K.Laxman and singer Hariharan.
Many government officers need their daily kappa fix to survive their stressful day as well. So as the Indians become more and more educated in the coffee world, their legends will expand and many people will believe that this divine nectar will give them immortality. They are believing that the gods and demons have worked together to churn this cosmic potion of amrita (eternal life).
How To Make Kumbakonam Degree Filter Coffee
Any Southern Indian who is hooked on caffeine will tell you that you do not “drink” kumbakonam degree filter coffee – you experience it! This brew is pure emotion in a cup, and a bargain at 15 rupees maximum, which is around 25 cents. You would only drink it from a steel or glass tumbler – never porcelain.
Your first step is to blow away the foam and smell the steam. This bitter aroma will instantly increase your heart rate. Goose bumps appear all over your body because of the excitement and anticipation of your first sip. Not too fast though, because it is very very hot!
Here is a video showing how to make kumbakonam degree coffee.
Now you are about to experience your first kaapi kiss. Slowly raise the tumbler to your lips and gently let your upper lip ever so slightly touch the surface of the elixir – not orgasmic yet.
Wait a few seconds and then plunge into the coffee with a giant sip. Liquid gold flows down your throat. The flavors and the heat fills your chest and then your entire body lights up, and you are filled with a heavenly rainbow.
All the worries in the world disappear. Even though your eyes are closed, it seems the moment lasts forever. Your brain thinks orgasmic! You hold on to the moment and you feel like dancing with the stars. You feel wonderful for the rest of the day. You could have another cup but wait awhile.
Here is one more video showing how to make filter coffee Indian style … ENJOY!