South Indian Filter Coffee is a traditional Indian style coffee that is made using a special filter. A coffee decoction is brewed which is then mixed with hot milk and sugar to create a perfect cuppa. Learn to make filter coffee in true South Indian style and serve it in a tumbler in style.
About This Recipe
I won’t lie to you, but a good cup of coffee is the answer to my dull days, lazy days, happy days, actually everything. Haha! Yes, My love for coffee is just never-ending.
So a few years back when I shifted to Bangalore, I was mesmerized by the smell of this strong filer coffee whenever I visited a Darshini or a South Indian restaurant. And the first time I tried this coffee, it was surely magic and pure love from the first sip itself. Since that day, there is no going back.
Now I keep juggling between Filter Coffee and Masala Chai for my morning beverage.
Also known as degree coffee, or filter kapi, this South Indian filter coffee is perfectly strong, sweet, and frothy.
The taste of this coffee can vary, depending upon which coffee powder you have used. Traditionally, this aromatic coffee is served in a small steel tumbler and a dabara (container/cup) that is used to cool and mix it. Pouring the coffee between the tumbler and the dabarah creates the classic frothy layer over it, which makes it even more divine.
You can even serve this in a brass or copper dabara for a traditional look.
This coffee is,
- Popular in South India
- Served in a traditional dabara
To make this traditional South Indian Filter Coffee, you will need just 4 ingredients – coffee powder, water, milk, and sugar, and a special coffee filter.
South Indian Coffee Filter – It can be found in most utensil shops in India. It is also easily available online or at any Indian store near you.
It comes in 4 parts. The lower compartment where the decoction collects. The upper compartment that has perforations in it and it fits on top of the lower compartment. An umbrella or the plunger and the lid.
Coffee – You can use any finely ground coffee powder to make filter kapi. If you get a chance, get your hands on the coffee powder sold in South India. Or else try sourcing it online. My favorite brand is Cothas, or Kalmane coffee.
Some people like to add some chicory to their coffee blend as well. It has a slightly woody and nutty taste.
If the coffee is ground coarsely, you will get a thin decoction. So make sure to get finely ground coffee powder.
Note – DO NOT use instant coffee powder to brew filter coffee.
Milk – Traditionally, this coffee is made using full fat cow’s milk. You can choose to skip milk or use other options like coconut milk, soy milk, or almond milk to make it vegan.
Sugar – Sugar, you can adjust the quantity according to your taste or even avoid adding it.
How to make Filter Coffee?
Start by cleaning the coffee filter nicely. The pores in the upper compartment should not be blocked with previous coffee. I am using a small coffee filter which is good for making 2 cups of coffee at a time. You can use a large filter and brew more decoction.
Fix the upper compartment of the filter over the lower compartment. Add 4 tbsp of coffee powder to the top compartment of the filter and spread it evenly. Sprinkle ¼ tsp of sugar over the coffee. This step adds a slight caramelization.
Press gently with the plunger or the umbrella attachment. Do not press too hard otherwise the coffee powder with fall from the pores to the lower compartment.
Top with warm water until the filter is almost full. Cover with the lid and let the coffee percolate.
It will take 3-4 hours for the coffee to percolate nicely. You can even use the decoction after an hour but it will not be very thick.
Add 2 tbsp decoction in a tumbler. You can use regular coffee mugs if a tumbler is not available.
Top with boiling hot milk.
Add sugar to your taste and mix by pulling the coffee between the davara and tumbler a few times. You can skip the pulling process and just mix the sugar using a spoon. Serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
It can be good for your health, as it is loaded with antioxidants but there are some rules to follow if you drink coffee every day.
Don’t overload your coffee with sugar, it can be really bad for your health. Either skip the sugar or use healthy alternatives such as jaggery to add a little sweetness to it. Instead, flavor it with a little cinnamon, it adds to coffee’s nutritional benefits.
Don’t consume more than a cup of coffee in a day. Too much coffee can reduce its overall health benefits because anything in excess is not good!
Choose a good coffee, if possible an organic one, which is free of pesticides and other chemicals.
Also, use a paper filter to reduce the cafestol, a diterpene that can raise the cholesterol levels in the blood.
If you don’t own a filter, don’t worry, you can still make this frothy South Indian Coffee.
Add water to a pan and let it boil. Once it boils, add coffee powder. Switch off the heat, mix it after 30 seconds and again cover with a lid. Let the mixture rest for a minute to get clear decoction.
Meanwhile, boil milk, add sugar, and froth by pouring into the tumbler from the pan and vice versa. Next, add sugar in the stainless steel tumbler, add in the boiling milk and add the decoction slowly.
To mix, pour coffee between the tumbler and the dabara, which will create the classic frothy layer over it. Serve hot.
You will have to keep two things in mind to make a nice and thick coffee decoction.
The coffee should be finely ground.
The time of filtering should be more.
To make a thick coffee decoction, add the coffee powder to the top compartment of the filter. Press nicely with the plunger, so that the powder is even.
Top with boiling water. Cover with the lid and let it percolate for about 3 to 4 hours. Your thick and strong decoction will be ready in some time.
My answer will be absolutely not. Filter Coffee tastes the best when served fresh and hot when it is nice and frothy.
You can make the decoction and keep. While serving, pour some hot milk, sugar, and serve.
Pro Tips By Neha
You can make a big batch of decoction and refrigerate for 3-4 days and use as and when required.
Coffee powder should not be too old. Check the date before buying it. 30 -60 days of shelf life is fine.
Use very hot milk to prepare filter coffee. If you use hot milk, then only it will become nice and frothy.
You can adjust the amount of coffee decoction and milk, depending on how strong coffee you want.
For the best results, prepare this coffee using full-fat milk or whole milk, as it turns out creamy and frothy.
You can use jaggery instead of sugar in South Indian Filter Coffee, for a healthy alternative.
Vegan – Traditionally, this is made with only dairy milk and the real taste of the coffee comes only when made with the same. But if you like to have it without dairy milk, you can use other alternatives such as Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Coconut Milk, or any other plant-based milk options.
With Jaggery – Filter Coffee made with jaggery is actually very popular in Karnataka, especially in Malnad, and is popularly known as Bellada Coffee.
Most South Indian households serve this divine coffee as their first beverage in the morning. You can serve some homemade snacks along with it.
Enjoy it along with your South Indian breakfast of Idli, Dosa, Uttapam, Paniyaram, Upma, or Pongal with a delicious South Indian Chutney such as Coconut Chutney, Tomato Onion Chutney, Peanut Chutney, etc.
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Filter Coffee Recipe
- 4 tbsp coffee powder (Do not use instant coffee powder to make this coffee. Any medium grind with or without chicory works fine for this )
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 and ½ cup boiling hot milk
- sugar (to taste)
- Start by cleaning the coffee filter nicely. The pores in the upper compartment should not be blocked with previous coffee. I am using a small coffee filter which is good for making 2 cups of coffee at a time. You can use a large filter and brew more decoction.
- Fix the upper compartment of the filter over the lower compartment. Add 4 tbsp of coffee powder to the top compartment of the filter and spread it evenly. Sprinkle ¼ tsp of sugar over the coffee. This step adds a slight caramelization.
- Press the coffee gently with the plunger or the umbrella attachment. Do not press too hard otherwise the coffee powder with fall from the pores to the lower compartment.
- Top with warm water until the filter is almost full. Cover with the lid and let the coffee percolate.
- It will take 3-4 hours for the coffee to percolate nicely. You can even use the decoction after an hour but it will not be very thick.
- Add 2 tbsp decoction in a tumbler. You can use regular coffee mugs if tumbler is not available.
- Top with boiling hot milk.
- Add sugar to your taste and mix by pulling the coffee between the davara and tumbler a few times. You can skip the pulling process and just mix the sugar using a spoon. Serve immediately.