It’s about time an ultimate guide to Indian filter coffee was put together. So here it is. All you need to know about Indian filter coffee. Right from its history, the addition of chicory, brewing technique and preparation, how it’s different from western filter coffees, this is the one and only definitive guide you’ll ever need to understand this centuries-old beverage!
Plus we’ve made it as simple as possible for you to follow by using ‘coffee jargon’ as little as possible!
We’ll cover the following (feel free to navigate to the section you are most interested in),
- KAAPI – What’s in a name?
- History of Indian Filter Coffee in India
- What is chicory and it’s role in Indian Filter Coffee?
- What to expect when a coffee is labelled Indian Filter Coffee?
- Indian Filter Coffee at a cafe
- Coffee Extraction ~ The ‘Decoction’ Brewing Technique
- Preparation & Serving Style ~ Making Indian Filter Coffee
- Frothing Indian Filter Coffee
- Indian Filter Coffee vs Western Filter Coffee
- KAAPI – What’s in a name?
Most Indian coffee is grown in the Southern Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh. While each of these states has its own distinct culture and language, the word KAAPI means coffee!
KAAPI was probably adopted as a phonetic rendering of the word coffee in South Indian languages, much like ‘Kopi’ in South East Asian countries or like ‘Kaffee’ in German.
History of Indian Filter Coffee in India
The Indian filter coffee is variously known as filter coffee, degree coffee, Mysore filter coffee, or Kumbakonam coffee, and was a staple in South Indian households long before café chains serving lattes and mochas became fashionable in urban India.
After coffee was discovered and when European countries started consuming coffee, it quickly started to become a highly traded commodity by the 17th century. At the time the Indian subcontinent was colonized by the English and French troops, who commissioned coffee cultivation in the most geographically favourable parts of the country.
We know for a fact that in the early days before coffee makers were invented, coffee was extracted in the crudest possible way.
The roasted coffee beans were ground, boiled with water, and consumed after allowing the coffee sediments to settle at the bottom (This is how Turkish coffee is prepared even today!). Subsequently, somewhere in South India, the Indian Filter Pot was invented to refine the coffee extraction. All coffees made since then using an Indian Filter Pot came to be called Indian Filter Coffee.
What is Chicory and its role in Indian Filter Coffee?
Chicory is a plant that belongs to the dandelion family. The chicory root is what is blended into the coffee.
It is rumored that in the 17th century when coffee was in short supply, the French and Germans started blending chicory with coffee. Some others believe that chicory was added for its medicinal properties and its use in coffee reduced the caffeine intake.