September 7, 2013

Filter Coffee | How to make Filter Coffee | South Indian Filter Coffee | Kitchen Basics 101

Picture this : Every South Indian movie or clip representing a typical TamBram household will have a Hindu newspaper, Filter coffee in a davara (a stainless steel tumbler with a flattish cup) and M S Subbalakshmi singing Suprabhatam (morning prayers)... Its that ubiquitous by its presence. Also called Kumbakonam Digree Coffee (Kumbakonam is a prominent town in Tamilnadu), this is one beverage which is a sure shot wake up call for any Tam Brahm householder.

I am sure every South Indian family  - especially those in Tamilnadu and Karnataka - have their own version of making Filter Coffee. Strong , rich, with and without chicory, milky, frothy - the versions are endless. Each family will also have a coffee bean / coffee powder supplier who would be with the family for ages - supplying the same grade (and variety) of coffee for ages to come. Today's post on How to make Filter Coffee is on popular demand by my friends not from the South, and yet who love and rather crave for South Indian Filter Coffee. I have included tips and little tricks that would be helpful for first time makers and a revision perhaps for everyday coffee makers :-))

Filter Coffee is best served fresh after any breakfast - Idli / Vada / Dosa / Pongal / Poha / Sevai / Uttapams or even as a refreshing drink in the evening.

In fact, even before FDI and retail in India opened up to the numerous Cafe Coffee Days and Baristas,  coffee was a special treat, either available traditionally only in homes or at some restaurants. The history of coffee goes at least as far back as the thirteenth century with a number of myths surrounding its first use. 

The original native population of coffee could have come from Ethiopia, Sudan or Kenya, and it was cultivated by Arabs from the 14th century. Wikpedia tells me that Drip brewing, or filtered coffee, is a method which involves pouring water over 
roastedground coffee beans contained in a filter, creating the beverage called coffee

Water seeps through the ground coffee, absorbing its oils and essences, solely under gravity, then passes through the bottom of the filter. The used coffee grounds are retained in the filter with the liquid falling (dripping) into a collecting vessel such as a 
carafe or pot.

However, in traditional South Indian homes, coffee beans were procured from the growers themselves, based on their richness were classified into Robusta, Plantation A, Plantation B and the like. These beans were roasted and ground by hand at homes in a cast iron coffee mill (like this picture on the right. pic courtesy : Chitra Amma's Kitchen). 

Without these machines now, we have the Stainless steel filter (something like a percolator, but with a sieve like partition between the two parts). So, lets get to make Filter Coffee as it makes its way to BM # 32 under Alphabet F. 

1) Invest in a Coffee Making Filter - pref the stainless steel version
2) Store the coffee powder in an airtight container, and preferably in the refrigerator to ensure the aroma is locked
3) Use freshly boiled milk (tetrapack milk cartons dont make good Filter Coffee) always to make a cup
4) If there is decoction left over, store it in the refriegerator without adding milk
5) If you want to re-heat previously made coffee, boil a pot of water and place the coffee mug in it to provide indirect heating
6) You may use brown sugar or palm sugar in place of white crystalline sugar to make this coffee. however the taste would vary.

Prep time : 5- 8 mins + Milk boiling time

Ingredients for coffee decoction : 
Freshly ground Filter coffee Powder (Nescafe / Bru / Instant Coffee Mixes dont work)
Sugar - to taste
Freshly boiled milk - to taste

Method (To make moderately strong Coffee) :

Bring the water to a rolling boil. Ensure the Coffee Filter is washed and clean. Keep the upper container (with the sieve portion) near a naked flame for 1-2 secs to ensure its dry and all impurities are drained out
Depending on the size of the filter, add 5-7 tea spoons of filter coffee into the upper container. Place the upper container on the lower cup.. Pour the boiling water till almost the top (the water should be rolling boil till you pour)
Tap once or twice gently on the top container and place the lid
After 8-10 mins (depending on the coffee powder and water used), the decocotion is percolated to the lower container.

(see pics above)

To make the coffee (measurement for 1 serving) 

In a normal steel or silver tumbler, add 1 tsp of sugar. Add 1/4 cup of the decoction, and immediately add the frothy boiling milk. Mix this liquid with another cup up and down a couple of times till the decoction and milk mix well and you get a frothy top.

Serve immediately.

Notes - If making in large quantities, the proportion of decoction to milk (for strong coffee) is 1/3 : 2/3. Depending on the taste and strength of the coffee powder and personal preferences, adjust the strength of the Filter Coffee 

Logo courtesy : Preeti

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 32


  1. Ah so inviting day will not begin without this..

  2. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH filter coffee. The best wake up brew ever.

  3. wow, what a beautiful detailed post, i love filter once in a while, not hooked on to it as much, but love it whenever i have opted for one

  4. Ippadi tempt pannarele:-)...andha seen enga veetale daily morning:-)

  5. Such a helpful post!!! I really want 2 start making filter coffee at home... really love them... :)

  6. Lovely post ! Never tried this filter coffee at home ..

  7. ohhh.... filter coffee... bash bash... romba nalla iruku... ;)

  8. cannot imagine my morning without this beauty in hand... delicious and very aromatic and flavorful filter coffee!!!

    Besh Besh romba nanna irukke....


  9. I do not drink any coffee..but loved every bit of this have explained so well..amazing Kalyani. .totally bowled.

  10. Seriously am missing this filter coffee here, everytime we come India,we never forget to start our day with this filter coffee..

  11. I love coffee.. Wow what a lovely frothy coffee

  12. I am a coffee fanatic and sure I would love this

  13. A coffee lover's treat!!
    My mil claims to be the best coffee maker :) As you mentioned in your post, from decades my mil has a fav coffee vendor! She gets her own filter and coffee powder when she visits us as well!

  14. Nothing can take the place of filter coffee. Missing it a lot nowadays...

  15. Lovely post for sure.. I'm also one of those who's day starts with a strong filter coffee.. Without that my day just collapses around with my mood swings.. :)

  16. Lovely post. Though I'm not a coffee drinker, I've seen my mom make this for my dad every day.

  17. My day doesn't start without a super strong cup of filter coffee.Love the post and the pics Kalyani...

  18. We begin our everyday with filter coffee! Such a lovely post explaining the coffee! Coffee lovers would for sure appreciate this!

  19. Waaahhhh Acup of filter coffe will make me alive any time in the day. fantastic post..

  20. Don't hit me. Just read. :) It may sound surprising but I can't stand the smells of either coffee or tea even though the people around me seem to be addicted to them, especially my dear husband.
    And that one was a nice post.

  21. My parents and in laws have moved on to coffee makers - they say its more intense than the ones in the filter maker. As for me, I have sitched to Instant :D for my husband. I am into tea, not coffee anyway. I use the coffee filter for draining whey frm curd. It makes an excellent 'cheese maker' :)

  22. Ahhhhhhh! coffee and filter coffee. Simple heavenly pleasures on earth.
    Great post Kalyani

  23. Beautifully explained and with loads of attention to detail, like tapping the filter once filled. Great for those who're starting out with this. Good job!

  24. I'm not south indian, but since I tasted this coffee I'm totally addicted to it! I ordered filter and coffee powder online. Best coffee I ever tasted! I need to buy these coffee tumblers asap


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