Indian filter coffee
South Indian Filter coffee served in a traditional brass glass and davara set. Photo: iStock/subodhsathe

India's filter coffee claims second spot among the world's finest 38 coffees

Renowned for its rich aroma and distinctive flavour, India's beloved 'filter coffee' has achieved an impressive second position on the prestigious 'Top 38 Coffees In The World' list. TasteAtlas, a widely recognized food and travel guide platform, recently unveiled this global ranking, highlighting the excellence of India's brewed coffee tradition. Topping the list is the iconic 'Cafe Cubano,' with 'Indian filter coffee' securing a well-deserved second place. The delightful Espresso Freddo and Freddo Cappuccino from Greece claim the third and fourth spots.

Indian filter coffee
South Indian traditional steaming filter coffee in a traditional brass glass and davara set. Photo: iStock/danika arora

'Cafe Cubano,' also known as Cuban Espresso or Cafecito, originates from Cuba and is renowned for its sweet and short shot. It involves a unique preparation method, combining dark roast coffee with sugar during the brewing process, resulting in a creamy and flavourful foam. This traditional Cuban delight is prepared in stovetop espresso makers or electric espresso machines.

Indian filter coffee
Filter press for making south Indian filter coffee. Photo: iStock/Kruthi R

In contrast, Indian filter coffee, an integral part of the country's cultural fabric, is crafted using a straightforward yet effective coffee filter machine. The process entails boiling water in a 'decanter,' adding finely ground coffee powder to the filter, and allowing it to brew slowly, producing a rich and flavourful beverage. In South India, it's a common practice to set up the filter overnight, ensuring a freshly brewed cup is ready in the morning. The coffee blend typically comprises a mix of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Chicory, a root vegetable, is often added to the coffee blend, ranging from 10% to 20%, to enhance flavor and reduce bitterness.

Indian filter coffee is traditionally served in a "tumbler and davara" set, which consists of a small steel or brass tumbler and a wide metal saucer. The coffee is often served with hot frothy milk and sweetened with sugar according to individual preferences.

 Typical south Indian breakfast served along with filter coffee
Typical south Indian breakfast served along with filter coffee. Photo: iStock/vm2002

Filter coffee is deeply embedded in South Indian culture and is a staple in households across the region. It is commonly enjoyed during breakfast or as a refreshing beverage throughout the day. The process of making and serving filter coffee is considered an art, and there are variations in the proportions and techniques based on personal preferences.

Making traditional Indian filter coffee involves a specific process and requires a South Indian coffee filter set. Here's a simple recipe for preparing authentic Indian filter coffee:

2-3 tbsp coarsely ground coffee
1-2 tbsp chicory (optional)
1 cup water
1/2 to 1 cup (adjust to taste) milk
Sugar, optional, to taste
Equipment needed:
South Indian filter set (upper cup with small perforations, lower cup, and pressing disc)
Tumbler and davara set (or any cups of your choice)

In the upper cup of the filter, add coarsely ground coffee and chicory (if using)
Adjust the ratio based on your preference for the strength of the coffee
Place the upper cup with the coffee blend onto the lower cup
Boil fresh water
Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds in the upper cup
Allow it to slowly filter down into the lower cup
This process extracts the coffee decoction
While the coffee is brewing, heat milk in a separate container
You can froth the milk if you prefer a creamy texture
Once the coffee decoction is ready, transfer it to the tumbler
Add the desired amount of sugar (if using)
Pour the hot, frothy milk into the tumbler containing the coffee decoction
The ratio of coffee to milk can be adjusted based on personal preference
Hold the tumbler and davara set at a height and pour the coffee back and forth between the cups to create a frothy layer
Allow the coffee to settle for a moment, and then sip and enjoy the rich and aromatic flavour of Indian filter coffee

Remember, making the perfect cup of filter coffee may require some experimentation to find the ideal coffee-to-chicory ratio and the right balance of milk and sugar according to your taste preferences. Enjoy your cup of authentic Indian filter coffee!

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