The Morning Cup of Coffee

Coffee is Kaapi in tamil. At home, the day always starts with a hot cup of filter coffee. Black Coffee made from the steel filter early in the morning by aachi or amma. Fresh milk boiled at the same time. Black coffee, thick milk and sugar made foamy and frothy… black coffee is called decoction. Wickipedia also mentions that ‘Decoction’ is the term used colloquially in south india to refer to black coffee prepared by the traditional method.  Dictionaries also say –  to ‘decoct’ is to extract the flavor by boiling or to make concentrated.

No left over decoction and no old milk for filter kaapi.  When the new milk packet comes home every morning, it is opened and boiled.. ready for immediate consumption of kaapi. Kaapi is served in dabara set – small bowl and tumbler/glass. The bowl is either to mix sugar separately or make the kaapi right and medium hot to drink.

Kaapi Thool or coffee powder would come from the traditional coffee grinding shop. When amma goes to get the kaapi thool, I used to accompany her sometimes. I use to love the fresh aroma of coffee beans being ground.   She would blend two varieties – choose from peaberry A, peaberry B, and Robusta and no chickory. Till the time we reach home.. the aroma of kaapi thool would travel with us – sometimes in bus, sometimes in auto or in the car. Even today, in the super markets, the aroma of ground coffee seeds takes me to those fresh aromatic days.

But, children were given coffee to drink only when they enter universities. When we were still in school, only milk and milk based porridges or drinks. Seeing thaatha, aachi, appa and amma drink foamy frothy coffee, we would also demand foamy frothy milk and fight for the best foam between siblings. After the milk is done, amma is always there to wipe our milky cat moustaches with her mundhanai – or saree pallu.


Filter Kaapi 

The Coffee Filter

  • The coffee filter has four parts – bottom cup, the upper cup, the presser and the lid
  • The upper cup is the filtering portion and has very small pores to hold the powder and let out the black coffee
  • With the presser, the powder is compressed well to hold the powder intact
  • The decoction or brewed black coffee is collected in the bottom cup


















  • ground coffee powder – 3 heaped tsp
  • boiling hot water – 225 ml

The quantity of coffee powder can be altered to each person’s preference – strong or less stronger coffee also depending on the coffee powder.  The aroma of coffee is best stored when the upper cup with coffee powder is filled with water till brim. So, if your coffee filter is slightly bigger and can take in more water, add more coffee powder.

  bean and powder







 Method of preparation of decoction

  1. Take 3 heaped tea spoons of coffee powder in the upper cup of the filter – which has the pores/filter on it
  2. Press it with the presser to make the powder even but do not press it too hard
  3. Pour in the boiling hot water on the pressed coffee powder in the upper cup till brim
  4. Close with lid and let the decoction brew down
  5. If one finds the coffee very strong, take the first decoction out and pour half the quantity water and let it percolate again – this is the second decoction and is less stronger than the first
  6. One can either use the blend of both first and second decoctions or just the first.


making the decoction foamy


The Dabara Kaapi


the traditional cuppa


To make one cup of coffee

  1. Take 1/3 cup of black decoction with or without sugar as preferred and make it frothy.
  2. Making the decoction foamy and frothy is an art by hand (see picture)
  3. Boil 2/3 cup of milk in a vessel on stove
  4. When the milk boils, pour in the frothy black decoction and pour it back and forth again in the vessel to make it more frothy
  5. When it is hot enough, pour in the tumbler 
  6. Place the tumbler in the dabara and serve
  7. Adjust sugar or milk according to preferences. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s