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How To Make South Indian Coffee (Authentic Recipe)

South Indian Coffee_shutterstock_jayk67One of our favorite things about coffee—besides the caffeine content and taste—is that it is one of the few universal features of human culture. In nearly every corner of the globe, you can find people brewing and sipping coffee in one form or another. From Australia to Alberta and everywhere in between, people love coffee.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at a unique way of making coffee popular in Southern India. This method is so popular there that it is officially just called “South Indian coffee” or “South Indian filter coffee.” Unlike some other regional coffee recipes we’ve covered, South Indian coffee requires some specialized equipment, as it is difficult to replicate with other coffee gear. Nonetheless, if you’re curious about South Indian coffee and have access to the necessary filter, we encourage you to follow along and learn how to make South Indian coffee.

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When Is a Filter Not a Filter?

South Indian coffee requires a coffee filter to make it correctly, and we know you probably think you have plenty of coffee filters around you could use. Unfortunately, South Indian coffee filters are not the same as regular coffee filters. It is almost certain you don’t have one unless you purchased it specifically to brew coffee in the South Indian style.

A South Indian coffee filter is a stainless steel contraption consisting of two nested cups, one on top of the other. One cup holds the coffee grounds and has holes that allow the coffee to pass through and fall into the second cup.

It is nearly impossible to replicate the effect of passing through the filter with another brewing method. If you want to make South Indian coffee, you really need to pick up a traditional Indian coffee filter. Luckily, there are many affordable options available online.

South Indian Coffee_shutterstock_jayk67
Image Credit: jayk67, shutterstock

How to Make South Indian Filter Coffee:

Besides the special filter, you’ll also need several other items before you can make South Indian coffee.

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of instant coffee powder or finely ground coffee
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
Equipment
  • A small pot
  • A dabarah/tumbler set (more on this later)

A dabarah is a small cup shaped like a tiny milk jug with a curved lip. Unlike the coffee filter, you don’t need one of these to make genuine Indian filter coffee. Any pair of small mugs or cups will get the job done.

We should make one final note about the coffee before we get to the recipe. Instant coffee is extremely prevalent in India, and authentic South Indian coffee should be made with instant coffee powder to get the full experience. However, if you don’t have instant coffee powder, you can substitute finely ground coffee.

Now onto the recipe!

Guided Steps
  • Put the coffee in the upper chamber of the coffee filter. Attach the upper chamber to the lower one. Use the built-in tamper to compress the coffee slightly.
  • Pour boiling water into the upper chamber until it is completely filled. This will be about 1 cup of water.
  • Leave the coffee to sit for about 30 minutes.
  • While you’re waiting for the coffee, boil ¾ cup of milk.
  • After 30 minutes, mix the boiled milk, coffee, and sugar in the dabarah.
  • Now the fun part. Pour the mixture back and forth between the dabarah and tumbler at least 3-4 times. The goal of this step is to aerate the coffee and produce a thick, creamy texture. Use a high, arcing pour.
South Indian Coffee_shutterstock_iris stock
Image Credit: iris stock, shutterstock
South Indian Coffee_shutterstock_jayk67

South Indian Filter Coffee Recipe

Creamy, frothy, and sweet, South Indian coffee is unusually delicious. The unique filter style makes a strong, smooth cup of coffee, and the traditional pouring technique gives Indian filter coffee a smooth, creamy texture similar to what you expect in a latte or cappuccino.
5 star average
Prep Time 5 mins
Steeping Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine South Indian
Servings 2 drinks
Calories 70 kcal

Equipment

  • A small pot
  • A dabarah/tumbler set (see notes)

Ingredients
 

  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder or finely ground coffee or finely ground coffee
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

  • Put the coffee in the upper chamber of the coffee filter. Attach the upper chamber to the lower one. Use the built-in tamper to compress the coffee slightly.
  • Pour boiling water into the upper chamber until it is completely filled. This will be about 1 cup of water.
  • Leave the coffee to sit for about 30 minutes.
  • While you're waiting for the coffee, boil ¾ cup of milk.
  • After 30 minutes, mix the boiled milk, coffee, and sugar in the dabarah.
  • Now the fun part. Pour the mixture back and forth between the dabarah and tumbler at least 3-4 times. The goal of this step is to aerate the coffee and produce a thick, creamy texture. Use a high, arcing pour.

Notes

A dabarah is a small cup shaped like a tiny milk jug with a curved lip. Unlike the coffee filter, you don't need one of these to make genuine Indian filter coffee. Any pair of small mugs or cups will get the job done.
Instant coffee is extremely prevalent in India, and authentic South Indian coffee should be made with instant coffee powder to get the full experience. However, if you don't have instant coffee powder, you can substitute finely ground coffee.

Nutrition

Calories: 70kcal
Keyword South Indian coffee, South Indian filter coffee

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Conclusion

South Indian coffee is unlike coffee prepared with any other method. The unique filter style makes a strong, smooth cup of coffee, and the traditional pouring technique gives Indian filter coffee a smooth, creamy texture similar to what you expect in a latte or cappuccino.

If you don’t have an authentic dabarah/tumbler set, you can use any small beverage containers and get similar results. However, without an Indian coffee filter, you simply cannot make South Indian filter coffee. The filter is necessary to get the right strength and mouthfeel, and it is very difficult to get a similar effect from another brewer.

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Featured Image Credit: South Indian Coffee, shutterstock

Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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