Filter Coffee – Gift of India to the Coffee World

A lot happens over coffee. True. Specially for coffee addicts like me. Addicted to filter coffee, not because it is from my country India, but it is like none other.

If there is heaven on earth, then it must be in the kitchen where Indian filter coffee is brewing. Particularly so in South Indian homes. And the aroma of the heavenly beverage wafting from the kitchen gets your taste buds tingling, even before you take that blissful first sip. You think I am exaggerating? Walk into an Indian home in the wee hours of the morning, or early evening and you will know what I am talking about. Wait, just pause before you ring the doorbell ; an aroma is filling your nostrils, right? Walk in and you will get a cuppa, rich in taste and true to its aroma.

So you loved it and you wish to ask for another cup, even as you are halfway through. But wait, you may not want another for sometime. A cup of South Indian filter coffee is so satiating, you are probably crooning, ‘I am on the top of the world…..’!!

If South Indian filter coffee is to be traditionally made and has to be as exotic as I am making it sound here, you will need a special metal device, looking like this. You can buy it at The Sandalwood Room. Head to Tras Street, pop in at this lifestyle boutique, pick up your Indian filter coffee set, that comes with an instruction manual and coffee suggestions. This coffee sounds divine, but is very simple to whip up. You may want to try it out ASAP !! The Sandalwood Room will help you with where to buy the coffee powder.

Filter coffee set The Sandalwood Room

The South Indian filter coffee set at The Sandalwood Room

Make your filter coffee :

Prep time : 5 mins

Brewing time : 10 mins

Serves : 2

Coffee powder : 3 tbsps

Water : 3/4 cup

Fresh milk and sugar : as required



TSR filter coffee device componentsThe device has four components – two cylindrical cups, a pierced pressing disc with a handle and the lid. The upper cup is perforated and is to be fitted into the lower cup. Now load the perforated cup with the required amount of coffee powder and gently spread it out evenly. Place the pressing disc on top of the coffee powder. Pour the required quantity of boiling water after the steam has settled down over the disc, close the lid and allow the coffee to drip into the lower cup. Voila ! It is magic in the making ! I hear a similar device is used to make Vietnamese coffee too.

The resulting brew so gradually got from the device is generally stronger than the western drip/filter coffee, or even the espresso. Add boiled milk and sugar per requirement.

Now for some more specifics. Traditionally, the South Indian filter coffee is drunk out of a stainless steel tumbler. Trust me, it enhances the taste. Not the same if you sip it out of a china cup.

dabarah tumblerThis is how it is served. Frothing hot coffee in the tumbler with the wide steel cup, the ‘dabarah’. South Indians love filling the coffee tumblers to the brim and they want it steaming hot. Now you get it ? Yes, the wide cup serves a few purposes. Mixing the sugar and the added milk thoroughly; cooling the beverage down to a sipping temperature and getting a frothing. Watch the south Indians pour the coffee back and forth expertly between the dabarah and the tumbler and take their first sip, you will know it is satisfying!

Trivia about South Indian filter coffee:

  • It is a kind of cultural icon in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra, the four southern states of India.
  • Coffee was introduced to South India by Baba Budan in the 17th century. Until the middle of the 20th century, traditional households used only jaggery and honey to sweeten coffee. I guess we can take a tip from that for health reasons, but the taste will certainly vary.
  • Most commonly used coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta, medium roasted and finely ground.
  • Best made with fresh buffalo milk. Back in our childhood days, the milkman would get the buffalo to our doorstep, milk the animal and give us jars of fresh frothy milk. Coffee beans were roasted and ground afresh every morning. But, gone are those days!

It is winter now in India and a season of music particularly in the southern region. The Indian diaspora from all over the world travel to this region, to attend music festivals and eat mouth-watering traditional food during their stay. Cups and cups of the filter coffee are devoured at all times of the day. Like they say, ‘anytime is coffee time’!

Saravana Bhavan is an Indian chain of restaurants found in most cities of the world. If you haven’t tasted South Indian filter coffee yet, that’s the place to go to. Some cities like Singapore and Kaula Lumpur have Murugan Idli Shop, another such eatery that has traditional vegetarian fare on their menu. Ask your friends travelling to India to get you the South Indian filter coffee device and coffee powder. Here are some brands : Narasu’s, Leo, Cotha’s, Udhayam, Bru, Coorg and Kaapi. Singapore, Cotha’s and Coorg are easily available in the city. Lavazza will do as well. Or shop online. .

Tips for brewing a perfect filter coffee

  • Fresh coffee powder, fresh decoction and fresh milk make a difference. Left over decoction, a no-no.
  • Equal quantities of freshly roasted and ground Peaberry and Plantation A coffee beans are mixed for super tasting coffee. Just keep this in mind. Those staying away from India may not have access to these, but its good to know.
  • If the perforated metal coffee filter is blocked, hold it over direct flame for 2-3 seconds, or clean out the holes with a pin and then use it.
  • Dry the filter well before adding coffee powder.
  • Coffee filters come in various sizes. If using less coffee powder, use a small coffee filter.

Even as write this, it feels good to know from an U.S study, that coffee drinkers may live longer. Google for more information.

Everything in The Sandalwood Room is hand-made, hand crafted. In keeping with that, filter coffee hand-made and not machine dripped.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Landline : +65 62212655 / +65 97865896

Email: ,





Fresh Collage – Dollops from Here and There

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Fresh.”

The word Fresh is mnemonic ! Tired after a tough day of work , this word fresh conjured up thoughts of water , flowers and dawn when I opened my desktop and settled down in the blogging world with a cup of coffee. And true to my thoughts and even to the beverage on my table , I found these pictures clicked sometime in the past. Though working on another post , couldnt resist posting this one. Fresh !

Fresh bonsai Adenium bloom in my garden

Fresh bonsai Adenium bloom in my garden

Early morning rays streaming through a door and lighting up the feet of the deity at a temple. This is an archaelogical wonder ! Fresh fragrances of the flowers and incense , fresh water for the rituals of the morning , fresh minds , freshness greets every worshipper as you step into the precincts of the temple.

Early morning rays , fresh to the mind

Early morning rays , fresh to the mind

As coincidence would have it , today is festival time in some parts of India. ‘Ugadi the festival is called and it signifies the onset of spring/summer and the beginning of the new year , the lunar calendar way .This platter below which is readied for the festival is freshness incarnate , what with the the freshly cracked coconut , the sliced raw mango , a cube of jaggery , freshly plucked neem flowers , freshly ground spicepowder and salt , oh wait , salt is the odd-man-out here !!!!!! So , we grate and mix all of the above and eat tiny portions of the mixture. Symbolic ! The sweetness of the coconut and jaggery , the sourness of the raw mango and tamarind , the wee-bit-bitterness of the neem flowers , the salt and the spice signifying the highs and lows of life. As kids we we tried in vain to escape eating this , but our elders almost always manged to feed us with it. We would grimace and gulp it down , without as much as chewing it. And now , I feed it to my son , history repeating !

Ugadi platter , all things fresh

Ugadi platter , all things fresh

And here’s to the effervescence of freshly brewed South Indian filter coffee ( kaapi ). The photo I clicked a month ago at breakfast at Hotel Siddharth in the sleepy town of Mysore comes handy now. Blogging has taught me to keep my ears , eyes , nose , mouth open and my camera poised  , you never know what challenge The Daily Post is going to throw every week !!!!!! We , Indians relish our beverages , tea and coffee in short glasses sometimes. You guys must try it while in India , the taste and feel  is undenaibly superior.

Fresh coffee in short glasses , not cups

Fresh coffee in short glasses , not cups

You must be wondering how random this is getting , but its in keeping with the Fresh challenge , right ?

Chakku , fresh after her bath

Chakku , fresh after her bath

So here is this Chakku , for thats her name , fresh after her bath ; after all the fuss and the squealing and snapping and growling at the bath , she is being featured in a blog. Wish she could know that !

Hey , I actually feel fresh after writing so much about the attribute despite an exhausting day. Its all about our thoughts , right ? On that note , I must narrate this. A young girl walked up to me at the gym while I was in the midst of my workout ( ggggrrrrr ) the other day and asked me “how do you manage to look fresh even at the gym” and answered it herself saying ‘probably because you are smiling always’ ! I did acknowledge that the gym is a happy place to me , I love working out. So , yes , its always the mind that rules. My next post is going to be related to this.

Till then , Ciao !