Know your Filter Kapi better!

Came across this interesting note about the origin of Filter Kapi - by Mr. Elangkumaran Jayabharathi and wanted to share with our readers... 

There are multiple speculations as to why its called "degree" coffee:
  1. The most plausible explanation is that it's not "degree" coffee. It'sChicory which came to be pronounced as tikeri and eventually becamedegree. Chicory helps extract more flavour from the coffee beans.
  2. Milk certified as pure with was called degree milk owing to a mistaken association with the thermometer. It is claimed that coffee prepared withdegree milk became known as degree coffee.
  3. The first decoction is sometimes called the first degree, thus leading to the name degree coffee

South Indian coffee (a.k.a filter coffee) is a milk coffee (perfect example of South Indians' affinity for dairy products). Most of the beans are grown in India (Arabica and Robusta varieties are grown in Tamil Nadu primarily at Nilgiris District, Yercaud and Kodaikanal). 

The Decoction is made primarily from coffee beans (70-80%) and chicory (the other 30-20%). Although most FMCG coffee powders have a fixed percentage of coffee-chicory, there are multiple shops where you can ask for your own blend (Some of the small ones mix it in front of you, and your nose can spend 10 minutes in heaven).

This concludes the cliff notes section of the answer. If you wish to continue reading the rest of the answer, I'd suggest you get a fabulous cup of the mouth watering brew.

The Glass

FIlter coffee is traditionally served in the "dabra"/"dabarah" tumbler (glass)

The lower bowl-like part is usually used to cool the coffee if it's too hot.

Coffee Preparation and role of Chicory

It is brewed with a metal device that has two cylindrical cups, one of which has a pierced bottom that rests on the top of the "tumbler" cup, leaving room underneath to receive the brewed coffee. The upper part has two removable parts: a pierced pressing disc with a central stem handle, and a covering lid.

The upper cup is loaded with fresh ground coffee mixed with chicory. The grounds are gently compressed with the stemmed disc into a uniform layer across the cup's pierced bottom. With the press disc left in place, the upper cup is nested into the top of the tumbler and boiling water is poured inside. The lid is placed on top, and the device is left to slowly drip the brewed coffee into the bottom. The chicory sort of holds on to the hot water a little longer, letting the water extract more flavour from the coffee powder. The brew is generally stronger than western "drip style" coffee.

The resulting brew is very potent, and is traditionally consumed by adding 1–2 tablespoons to a cup of boiling milk with the preferred amount of sugar. The coffee is drunk from the tumbler, but is often cooled first with a dabarah (also pronounced in some regions as 'davarah'): a wide metal saucer with lipped walls.

Coffee is typically served after pouring back and forth between the dabarah and the tumbler in huge arc-like motions of the hand. This serves several purposes: mixing the ingredients (including sugar) thoroughly; cooling the hot coffee down to a sipping temperature; and most importantly, aerating the mix without introducing extra water (such as with a steam wand used for frothing cappucinos).

Filter Coffee is an integral part of South Indian cultureI'm a coffee lover/addict, and like a large variety of coffees. But like most Southies, I'd take a good filter coffee over a Cappucino at Cafe Coffee Day.


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