One of the drinks I'm most excited to put a spotlight on is South Indian filter coffee, also known as Kaapi, and by a host of other names like Meter Coffee, Mysore filter coffee, Madras filter coffee, Mylapore filter coffee, Madras kaapi. You have to love a beverage that goes by many names, with many regions vying to claim it for their own. You just know it's got to be good.
Many Americans don't realize that Indian coffee is a thing, so fixed is our association between India and chai. But not only is coffee enjoyed widely throughout South India, the crop also grows there, in the high, cloud-covered regions of Karnataka and Kerala.
India is one the top 10 coffee growing countries in the world, but you wouldn't know it, in the US at least.
The beans are simply not available for sale here, although shout out to Amazon for helping me get my hands on some whole bean roasts. Outside of a tiny handful of South Indian restaurants I've come across, and the awesome Third Culture Coffee in Bellevue, WA, kaapi is hard to come by. I know because I was hooked after my first cup and I'm always on the lookout.
Kaapi is made from a blend of dark roasted coffee beans and chicory, ground together into a fine powder. And yes, this coffee/chicory blend is popular in New Orleans as Cafe Du Monde and in Vietnamese coffee, which often uses the same brand. Similar to Vietnamese coffee, kappi relies on a specific type of stainless steel brewer that's a combination between a pour over and a French press. Boiling water is patiently poured over the grounds and allowed to slowly percolate through the stainless steel filter over several minutes. The end product is a rather thick coffee concentrate, syrupy yet powerful. While the coffee percolates, you heat the milk - preferably buffalo milk - but in the US we'll have to settle for full fat cow milk (or your favorite alternative). Don't forget to toss in the desired spoonfuls of sugar. Kaapi is generally served quite sweet.
Then the fun begins! The hot, sweetened milk and the hot coffee concentrate are combined, frothed and cooled by pouring them a dramatically through the air between cups! Thus the "meter coffee" name, for the talented kaapiwalla who can achieve a meter distance in the pour. Special points for keeping your shoes dry - and your fingers unscalded - during the process!
Kaapi is then served frothy and delicious in a dabarah (or davarah) tumbler. Slurped or sipped, you get a jolt of caffeine, sugar and milk, and BOOM! You are out the door and on the way to face down your day.
At Lassi & Spice, we're excited to bring this delicious beverage to life and show Seattle that maybe it only thought it knew everything there was to know about coffee. Beyond kaapi, we'll showcase Indian microlot coffee beans in our espresso and our daily brew. After all, the unique flavors of Indian beans deserve a time to shine. In order to feature these beans, we set up a unique partnership with Enchanted Indian Coffee, a company started by a son, who's an MD-PhD based in the US, to import coffee grown on his father's farm in Mysore. Their story, just like their coffee, is pretty great! With that, we're thrilled that Lassi & Spice will have freshly roasted single origin Indian beans delivered to our door, ready to brew for you. Call it by your favorite name, or just point and smile. We'll know what you mean!