16 August 2006

How to make South Indian filter coffee



Kumbakonam Degree Kaapi


This is a long-intended post. Right since June when my in-laws were visiting us from Chennai. I've always loved the aroma of traditional filter Kaapi. I also have two filters jostling for space in my over-crowded cabinets. Just that I'm not an extremely well-planned person and I can't wait for the coffee to percolate in the morning, when I want my caffeine fix in a hurry. Also, my decoction would always be too watery, so much so that I could easily pour half a cup of decoction into half cup of milk and still it would never be as 'strong' as I'd like it to be.

I observed Mom-in-law's technique when she was here and it was some serious technique. Seriously good coffee in the end. That's how I make my coffee nowadays and I make sure if I want that coffee fix in the morning, I get out my percolator the previous night. Other days it's good old tea. Not that I love tea any less.


Mom-in-law's Filter Kaapi

~You'll need a traditional percolator which is made of 4 parts.

~Coffee powder-Well, I'm not the girl to buy coffee beans and grind it fresh. Store bought coffee powder is just fine. A fine grind is used with a small percentage of chicory mixed in. Mom-in-law's brand of choice is from Vimala Coffee works in Chennai.

~Use a clean filter. Remove the lid and umbrella. Put 2 heaped Tbsp of coffee powder per person and press it down with a spoon. Keep the umbella back and gently pour fresh water brought to a rolling boil over the umbrella in the top container.

~The water will percolate down slowly depending on the quantity of powder placed. 6-8 tbsp of coffee powder will take the decoction almost 6-8 hours to collect at the bottom. (So it's better done at night, to have your morning cuppa). If you've put a lot of coffee powder, you wouldn't have a chance to put enough water to percolate resulting in very concentrated but less quantity of decoction at the bottom. In this case once the decoction collects below, you can add more boiling water at the top to collect the concentrate 2-3 times.

~Just remember that the consequent collections wont be as concentrated as the earlier ones. You might want to collect the entire lot and mix it together to get an even concentration of the whole lot of decoction in the end.

To prepare coffee: In a tumbler (traditional steel glass) or a mug, take upto 3/4th level milk and add decoction with constant stirring to make a coffee to suit your liking, mild or strong. Add sugar if you wish. Enjoy the aroma as you take a sip of Madras culture.

Note:
In my opinion, filter kaapi must be drunk in a traditional tumbler-davaraa, and the coffee swished a couple of times between the two to produce delicious foam (norai) on the top. I don't think my mom-in-law approves of this though. The disadvantage being the coffee getting cold while swishing it around ;) It is called Meter-Kaapi in someUdupi hotels as the coffee is poured into the glass from a meter's height to produce maximum foam

I submit this for the fortnightly WBB event on my blog. Have your pick of breakfasts from the fare on the table but wash it down with a tumbler of deliciously hot and aromatic filter kaapi!

45 comments:

Krithika said...

love the first pic !
My mother feels the same way about swishing the coffee. She will stand in the kitchen and drink it. Hers needs to be piping hot.

Revathi said...

Hey you read my mind. i had a long pending post about madras filter kaapi - Yes the same title tooooo... Yes kaapi deserves a whole post for itself. Great post !!

Priya said...

HEyyyyyy...Wonderful Nanditaa....I just looooooooveeeeeeeeeeee Coffee, my room-mates give me strict orders to restrict myself to one cup a day :-(....and Madras filter kaapi is the best in the world and the davraa-tumbler does add loads of taste to it...How u ask..?? I dont know, but hat kaapi in them produces sheer magic :-)

And thanks for reminding us in your latest post about this one, while looking at the round up pics I was wondering who the lovely lady with the coffee entry was ;-)

Faffer said...

Nandita,
Love the post. Filter Kaapi, IMHO, is the best.

Should try your Apricot-Rum Choco cake sometime - it sounds divine.

Happy weekend.

Nandita said...

Krithika, Revathi, Priya and Faffer,
Thanks for liking my post. This was one of my favourites. It didn;t generate too much interest for whatever reasons but Im sincerely happy you people liked it :)

Faffer do let me know how your cake turned out-

Happy weekend all of u!

Foodie's Hope said...

My husband Arvind,( who is a medical doctor too as you are,) loooves coffee.Specially Arabica with Chicory mix made as ,in his dad's coffee plantation home in karnataka.

In US, the only coffee available similar to that mix would be 'Cafe` DU Monde' with chicory from NewOrleans! We order it by mail. Thanks for blogging about coffee!

Nandita said...

Hey Foodie hope! It's so nice to hear from you...actually my pack of Chennai kaapi podi is over and now Im onto devouring those 3 packs of Kenyan coffee that hubby got from his Biz trips...

Gini said...

Nandita, you have no idea how much I have searched for info on how to make filter coffee. I loved your instructions and will be making this soon.

bluespriite said...

I do the untraditional thing.. and put all into a vessel-- coffee and water and there it goes onto the burner for a boil. That works too.. esp for this kind and if you have it black...
Its only on weekends that I bring out the coffee machine and savour the aroma. :)
Ive noticed this kind of percolator takes the longest.. but yes making it the previous nite is a good idea.

Nandita said...

Gini,
Glad you found it of use.

Blue- how does that work for filter coffee powder...when you boil it, do you filter out the powder later? Im just curious

Shri said...

Hi Nandita,

I came across your blog for the first time and am really happy to see the filter coffee post. I love coffee. My mom used to give me a big mug of coffee every morning and evening. Now, being in US, I make traditonal filter coffee everday in the evening for my husband and myself. I grind my coffee fresh once every 2 weeks.

babe with the keyboard said...

hey there! i love your blog,partly coz i like to cook (getting better at it) n partly coz its so hard to cook something fun on a student budget! love the madras filter kaapi post,bought back a wave of nostalgia,madras filer kaapi in the big apple is a pipe dream...unless i go to the saravana bhavan tucked somewhere here...love your blog,though - like ur breakfast series, but its kinda unreal for student - hehe,i know you did not intend it for students! but maybe u could start a series called cook in 15 minutes,and u know, not need too many diverse ingredients...and i dont mean non veg stuff alone (coz am a hardcore veggie) but yea, i guess students n bachelors/or whoever has to cook by himself/herself will bless ya from the core of their hearts! food for thought,wot!

Anonymous said...

Dear Nanditha,

I feel I need to have very fresh , flavour ,smeel coffee .By your method hope it takes 8 hrs .Is any other method to have coffee by 15 minutes - filter coffee not BRU / NESCAFE

r.Lakshmipathi

Bangalore

krithika said...

Dear Nanditha,
I have another tip to add more taste to filter coffee for pepole who would like the foam in the coffee,before adding milk swish the decoction this will not let the coffee become cold.

Rick Green said...

Saravanaa Bhavan is now in Vancouver. I tasted some filter coffee there a couple of days ago -- quite nice. However, it wasn't proper metre coffee, which is a shame because the ritual positively adds to the dining experience.

One thing I wanted to bring to people's attention is that coffee is highly perishable once it has been roasted. Therefore, if you want fresh coffee (which will not be bitter), you should find a local roaster to supply you with freshly-roasted beans. Don't buy more than a week's supply and don't buy pre-packaged coffee if you can help it. Grind the beans right before using. Fortunately, we can get freshly-roasted Monsooned Malabar in Vancouver too.

Percolating/boiling coffee will create an over-steeped decoction that basically ruins the coffee. You will have to use more sugar to disguise it. Better to filter or steep it.

Buddha's Retreat said...

Thanks for the detailed instructions. I tried them out just now, and things happened exactly as described. However, I still didn't get the exact coffee flavour that I get in the coffee served by Saravana Bhavan or Aryaa's here in Dubai.

I think it could be because I used skimmed milk instead of full-cream milk or maybe because I used pure fine coffee powder without any chicory.

Let me know if any of the above 2 factors could have changed the taste!

Tou and David said...

Saffron Coffee! Saffron Espresso Caffe! Oh, sooooo good!

Arif said...

This was posted in 2006, but still going strong. Thank you very much for the detailed instructions. Will go looking for my Percolater soon.

Uma said...

Hi
You didn't specify the water quantity for making the coffee.I would like to try this out.

mahesh said...

the taste is great..........
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Josh said...

Can you share known techniques for SOUTH INDIaN COFFEE FILTERs ?

How do you keep the filter from getting clogged?



Is PeABERRY seed better than PLANTATION?

What is the best grain size (COARSE, FINE, FRENCH etc) when grinding coffee beans?

Is adding chicory good ?

If acidity is a concern,
is it better to add roasted pattani podi ?

Can 'digaashan' be stored overnight?
Should old dicoction be heated?
Can Digaashan become poisonous if
heated?

How soon after making decoction do you get the best flavor?

pratap said...

Dear Nandita,
i am a bengali and basically we are very good at tea making, but just the other day i picked up a pack of filter coffee and imagine my horror when even after stirring for about 15 mins the coffee powder very adamantly stared up at me from the bottom of the cup. I then realized that my process must be wrong. So i looked up the net and found your blog and , by jove, it requires some serious skills. Is there any simpler process?

dela said...

Great post. Oh, I'm a fellow coffee lover who stumbled on this post thanks to a Google search for Filter Coffee. I hail from the Kumbakonam belt- the adage goes that vyavasayinga nelatha vitthu coffee saapduvinga ('Farmers would sell their lands for a cup of coffee.') While I inherited my ancestors' love for filter kaapi, the art somehow deserted me. Your post was just what I needed. Thanks a ton!

Anonymous said...

I was searching for filter coffee and came across your website, thanks for the info. One thing I don't understand is, won't the coffee be warm or even cold with the way you described? Since decotion was dripping all night. Any suggestions? Because what the point in drinking flavorful coffee when it is cold!!

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Anonymous said...

The Blog is Superb,, when i make it, everyone likes it,, but when my father tries it,, or my wife does it ,, it never tastes the same,, the only thing is you have to practice a lot till you get the perfect cup,, and mother in laws are good at it,, :)

Anonymous said...

Siva Siva.. Nandita, you are missing a lot in waiting for the decoction overnight ma.. For once try making fresh decoction in the morning, 15 mins daan ma.. and you will have very good flavorful tasty coffee.. please try and let us know ma..

Shruti M said...

Aah very helpful. Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

If you would like to try some great south indian coffee, check out deckancoffee.com. It is a high elevation coffee grown in the Giri mountain range in south india. I drink it everyday, there is a blend with chicory(tiger logo) and a straight coffee as well. Enjoy

gvshanks said...

My coffee now tastes better. Thank you.

G V Shankar
Thane, India.

Francis said...

Dear Nandhitha,
Thanks for the great tips, I love south indian filter coffee, i traveled a lot and love to take coffee at any place. When i come home that is Chennai, the best coffee you take from a Udupi hotel can satisfy your desire. I wanted to know the trick of making it at home. Can you tell me, do you mean fresh water to be poured is a cold or hot water? how much water for a 2 spoon of coffee powder?

rani said...

just today i came across your blog.
I experience that it doesn't take eight hours for the decotion to get collected beneath.
you can get fresh filter coffee within few minutes i suppose as i start my day with the fresh coffe in my hands.

thiruchendur said...

Thank you so much for this. We have used a South Indian 4 part coffee apparatus such as you mention for nearly 20 years. But we've bought coffee beans, ground them, and then poured the water through twice, giving us cups of coffee plus a thermos full of coffee for the day. But NOT Madras coffee. Recently at an Indian grocery we bought a Madras coffee blend of coffee & chicory, already ground, and we were puzzled puzzled puzzled why it took so long to go through the coffee maker. Now we know why. After days of puzzlement and difficult coffee making, we're happy!

Michael and Richard

debayan89 said...

Ohhh its verry nice indeed...I was always wanting to be a papular south indian coffe maker..hehe..now I got one recipe.

Deeba PAB said...

Hey Nandita. Got here looking for a coffee filter in India. The French Press from CCD breaks too often, and cant seem to find a filter like yours online. Any suggestions? Hub and me LOVE the morning filter coffee. This is a great post.

Nandita said...

@Deeba - I saw someone from Delhi tweet about where to find a coffee filter -proper south indian style in Delhi. Will enquire and get back to you ASAP>

Vigi said...

Kitchen appliance maker Preeti has a great simple coffee maker (costing ~ INR 800 - USD 16) that works on the same principles as the percolator. Add coffee powder into cup filter, add cold water in to the built in measure and switch on. the water boils rises and is steamed down onto the coffee, and a steel mug sitting on a heating pad below collects the decoction. works great if you want fresh decoction in the morning. set it up, brush teeth, boil milk and by that time the decocotion is ready to add. Preeti also has  amore expensive model, that I havent tried out.

saffrontrail said...

Hello Vigi, Many thanks for this information. Is this available in Chennai? I would love to buy one.

V.N.Santhanagopalakrishnan said...

while putting coffee powder in the filter add little bit of salt and a teaspoon of sugar and pour boiled water. you will find the coffee will be more tasty and the decoction will be thick. try & enjoy

Cappi_lover said...

See the instructions posted by V.N.Santhanagopalakrishnan. That's what will make the coffee taste like the coffee in Saravana Bhavan.

Senthil said...

Hey nice blog!! very nice post!! - Magnetic Shielding

Maha said...

A true filter coffee lover plans for the coffee, makes time to remember and does not want to settle anything but the best, viz. filter kaapi. Others just talk about it, and drink the sleazy instants! huh!

Vijay said...

Filter coffee is great but sometime for sake of convenience, more so in busy lifestyle the substitute is instant coffee. However, I am not a big fan of instant coffee but been having that as a compromise to keep myself going. But I chanced upon something called Claycup ready filter coffee decoction... See here for more details... claycupcoffee.com...great filter coffee... I just loved it...I would rank it excellent...

Vijay said...

Try out claycupcoffee.com

Naim Macho said...

love this coffee of South Indian best drip coffeemaker thanks for the awesome post, Nandita!