South Indian Filter

South Indian Filter Coffee (Kaapi) Brewing Guide

The South Indian Filter is an age-old traditional brewer from - as the name suggests - South India. While its origins are unknown, traditional homes in South India have been using it as their ‘go to’ brewer for decades. 'Simple', is the word that best defines this brewer. It is self contained, easy to store and works without electricity or use of paper filters. It is made out of metal (Stainless Steel or Brass) and consists of 4 parts: a collection chamber (bottom), an upper filter chamber with tiny holes, a plunger, and a lid. The filter is designed to use the percolation brew method, where hot water slowly drips through the bed of coffee grounds, and yields a coffee concentrate called decoction. 

Also called a ‘slow espresso’, the brew from the South Indian Filter can be used to make any espresso-style beverage like a cappuccino, flat white, americano and more. However, the traditional way of making coffee in India is to mix the decoction with frothy milk and sugar to make the iconic South Indian Filter Coffee, also known as ‘Filter Kaapi’ - more on this below. Let's get brewing! 

  • South Indian Filter (minus the plunger*)
  • Fork or chopstick
  • Pouring kettle
  • Digital scale or tablespoon & cup measure 
  • Timer

*note: While the plunger is used in traditional recipes, we believe it leads to over extraction (bitter notes in the cup). Thus, we suggest using a fork or chopstick instead to evenly distribute grinds for ideal extraction. Better yet, try the SOFI 72 brewer by Aramse that comes with a WDT tool instead of the plunger. 

  • 32g (5 tbsp) coffee, ground espresso fine
  • 220ml (about 1 cup or 8 fl oz) fresh, filtered water  
  1. Heat the water in the kettle. Bring it to a boil and allow to cool for a few minutes to reach the right temperature (about 195F)
  2. Assemble the coffee filter; place the filter chamber on top of the collection chamber
  3. Place the ground coffee in the filter chamber and distribute evenly with the help of a chopstick, fork or WDT tool. This will help loosen up any clumps and flatten out the surface
  4. Start the timer
  5. Gently pour in about 60 ml (¼ cup) of water, about 1 minute after it has boiled (195F / 90C)
  6. Give the filter a swirl to get all the coffee grounds wet and allow the coffee to bloom for 45 seconds
  7. Pour in the rest of the water in a gentle, spiral motion. (Total water is now 220 ml, about 1 cup)
  8. Swirl again or stir with chopstick, put the lid on and wait for your delicious decoction to brew

Drawdown should take anywhere between 8 to 10 mins and yields 180ml (about ¾ cup) of decoction. Be careful when transferring the decoction as the collection chamber can get quite hot. Enjoy with steamed milk or water and sugar to taste! 

Want to learn how to make an authentic Filter Kaapi? We bring you a quick brew guide to share this rich cultural tradition and popular brewing style from South India.

Making a Traditional Filter Kaapi

Brewing the perfect cup of South Indian Filter Kaapi is an art - one that is perfected by each generation before it is handed down to the next. The traditional recipe calls for mixing the coffee decoction with boiled milk and sugar – the ratio of these ingredients varies based on individual tastes. The recipe below serves as a starting point, and makes a ‘strong’ cup of coffee. You can increase the quantity of milk if you want a creamier drink, or the quantity of  coffee to make it stronger. Adjust the quantity of sugar for the desired level of sweetness or skip it entirely.

A couple things to note when making an authentic Filter Kaapi - the coffee used is typically a medium-dark roast blended with chicory; use whole milk or barista-style oat milk as this creates the best foam for the full experience. Filter Kaapi is often served in a stainless steel or brass tumbler and davarah set. A measuring cup with pouring spout and a serving mug will work well too. Now that we have our coffee decoction, let’s make a rich and creamy cup of Filter Kaapi. 

Start with your two mixing vessels (tumbler / mug and davarah / measuring cup with spout)

  • Add 1 teaspoon sugar to your tumbler or mug
  • Heat 60ml (¼ cup) milk on the stove until it start to boil, or heat in microwave for about 1 minute (do not let it boil over)
  • Pour the boiled milk into the tumbler or mug
  • Then add about 75ml (about ⅓ cup) of coffee decoction

Now, time to mix it all and create the iconic froth. Pour the coffee mixture back and forth between the two mixing vessels, increasing the height as you pour. This action stretches the coffee, cools it down, and creates a head of frothy bubbles that is the signature presentation of this drink. Continue to pour back and forth until the coffee, milk and sugar is mixed well and you have the amount of froth you like. Finally, sit back and enjoy this comforting cup of South Indian Filter Kaapi. 

Pro tips:

  • This brew method is best with a medium-dark or dark roast coffee. We recommend our Badnekhan Estate coffee and Chicory Blend for a more authentic taste of the Filter Kaapi
  • If you are short on time in the morning, you can also leave the coffee brewing overnight. Follow the recipe for the decoction and wake up to a delicious slow espresso
  • Extra decoction can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. The filter doubles up as a storage container too. Remove the filter chamber and put the lid on the storage chamber instead
  • If the coffee decoction is tasting too ‘weak’, grind finer or increase the amount of  coffee used to brew; if it is too bitter or overly strong then reduce the quantity, or use a coarser grind
  • The decoction can be used to make a hot or cold coffee drink!

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