The deep traditions and new trends of Indian coffee

    indian coffee

    India has been producing coffee since the 1600's. Coffee in India has a long, deep-rooted history to be proud of. Today, it remains an important part of the Indian culture and is gaining popularity. The drinking of tea is slowly moving aside for the coffee alternative.

    Trying a cup of Indian coffee is a new experience for many. You make it differently to other types of coffee. The method changes the taste and texture of the drink. India is bursting with wonderful traditions and cultural icons. Let's pour this one into a cup and take a sip.

    Drinking Coffee in India

    It's amazing that Indians today still honor traditions as old as four centuries. Everything from preparation methods to serving equipment tells a tale from the past. I want to show you how you can make a traditional cup of Indian coffee. First of all, let's take a closer look at the coffee culture in India.

    Coffee from India has its own terminology and even its own color! Coffee beans for the domestic market are colored with a green vegetable dye. Some of these can get mixed up, so don't be alarmed if you find a green bean in your bag! To save any other confusion, here's some terminology that might come in useful:

    • Cherry - This describes dry-processed coffee
    • Plantation arabica - This is the term for wet-processed Arabica beans
    • Parchment Robusta - This describes wet-processed Robusta beans

    Most people in India prefer to drink coffee at home, rather than at restaurants. The exceptions here are the two states where coffee cultivation began. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are full of street side coffee stalls. These places serve up frothy Indian filter coffee known as Kaapi.

    The froth comes from an unusual, traditional method used before drinking. The idea is to pour and mix the coffee between two separate containers at an exaggerated height. The term is "meter coffee" and it's a method unique to India.

    Recently, the coffee culture in India has had a makeover. Certain regions now boast trendy, artsy coffee shops. They serve up espressos, lattes and other types of coffee. Whereas many people in India may previously have chosen tea, they now have more exposure to coffee.

    The History of Indian Coffee

    Early 1600's

    Muslim pilgrim Baba Budan brought coffee to India. He smuggled the seven seeds in his garments out of Mecca. Thus, the coffee culture began in Southern India.


    The Brits made some changes to the coffee industry. It was previously only consumed domestically, but they began to export it. They found that the Indian climate was ideal for the crop and set up Arabica plantations.

    One Brit decided to dedicate 40 acres of land to growing coffee. When other people saw how successful he was, a movement happened. More people felt encouraged to enter the coffee industry. This gradually led to a vibrant ecosystem.


    The Great Depression had a bad impact on the coffee industry. The government stepped in to help get things back on track. They set up the Coffee Cress Committee. Later, this became the Coffee Board of India. It provided funding to planters and did more to help market the product.


    Coffee culture began to gain more hype around it. Indian coffee houses emerged and made filter coffee more popular. Coffee drinking now had a more social aspect to it.

    Present day

    India is now the fifth largest coffee producer in the world. Indian coffee is commonly used as a base, though recently it is recognized as having more potential. It is making its way onto the specialty coffee market.

    Coffee Production and the Monsoon Season

    Indian coffee beans

    The majority of coffee in India is produced in the southern region. You may be familiar with Mysore coffee, possibly the best from the country. Mysore coffee is the market name for coffee grown in Karnataka. The state produces high-quality Indian coffee beans that are wet-processed. The beans have a subtle but rich flavor.

    Karnataka isn't the only state that deserves some recognition. Tamilnadu and Kerala also produce high-quality coffees with a good name in the market.

    Coffee production in India takes into account the weather. Growers take full advantage of the monsoon season, and it truly affects the beans! During the monsoon season, they leave the coffee beans out in the open, often in large warehouses. The moisture in the wind does its work on the beans, called "monsooned coffee beans".

    This all began by accident when India first began producing coffee. As coffee beans were transported to Europe, the taste changed en-route. The winds added new flavors and changed the colors and other properties of the beans. The Europeans loved these unique beans! Even when transportation systems improved, Indian coffee producers wanted to replicate this.

    The result is a sweeter, often woody coffee. It weakens the acidity and adds a slight spice to the beans. Monsooned beans are the ideal choice for espresso blends.

    How to Make Indian Coffee

    Coffee from India contains subtle spicy flavors like cardamom, pepper, and nutmeg. But don't take my word for it. The best way to find out how it tastes is to make some yourself! Learn how to make it the traditional way with this Indian coffee recipe.

    You will need:

    • Finely ground coffee or coffee powder (3 tbsp)
    • Milk
    • Sugar
    • Hot water
    • A coffee filter
    • Traditional Dabarah (small metal serving cup)
    • Tumbler (slightly wider than the Dabarah)
    • Small pot
    indian filter coffee

    ​The Method


    ​You'll notice that the coffee filter is nothing like a paper filter. It contains two chambers. The first step is to add the coffee into the upper chamber.


    ​Use the pressing disc to lightly tamp the grounds. Don't do this too hard, just ensure the grounds are even.


    ​Pour hot water into the upper chamber.


    ​Cover the filter and allow it to brew for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, heat the milk on a stove.


    ​Pour a tiny amount (1-2 tbsp) of the brew into your Dabarah. Then fill it up with milk. Add sugar to taste.


    ​Have fun pouring the milk and coffee mixture between the Dabarah and tumbler. Hold one container up high and watch the mixture flow. Keep doing this until the coffee is cool enough to drink.


    ​Finish by serving the coffee in the Dabarah. Serve the Dabarah inside the tumbler as the metal can be too hot to hold.


    ​Enjoy your traditional South Indian filter coffee, made to perfection!

    The Bottom Line

    It's always fun to learn new things, and this traditionally made coffee is no exception! There may be new trends and modern coffee shops popping up around India, but don't forget the past. Traditions and culture are important in this country, so try the Indian filter coffee.

    It is a unique experience you won't find in other coffee shops around the world. You can thank Baba Budan, and make some in your own kitchen!

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