South Indian Filter Coffee or Kaapi

South Indian Filter Coffee or Kaapi
South Indian Filter Coffee or Kaapi

Good Morning! Give me a tumbler of filter coffee and I can accomplish anything in the world. A typical day of mine starts with a leisurely 15-minute lingering over coffee, and it gives me the impetuous to set off for my daily walk. (See what I mean by I can accomplish anything in this world? :-D)

Having grown up in a home where freshly brewed filter coffee is de rigueur, I am quite bemused at being besieged with questions about “how to make filter coffee”, especially from my Gujarati and North Indian friends. This blog post was at the behest of one such friend who thinks that I am holding on to some family secret. 🙂

The Coffee Filter shown in the picture belongs to my mother and is from the late 1950s. In our home, it is treated with the same respect as a family heirloom.


  • Coffee Filter

Ingredients for Decoction

  1. Fresh Coffee Grounds/Powder – 2 to 3 heaped teaspoons
  2. Water

Ingredients for 1 Cup Coffee

  1. Coffee Decoction – 1/4 to 1/3 Cup
  2. Milk – 3/4 Cup
  3. Sugar to Taste

To Make the Decoction

  1. In the upper portion of the coffee filter, place the coffee powder.
  2. Gently press with the tips of your fingers to pack the powder firmly.
  3. Place the plunger over the powder.
  4. Fit the upper portion of the filter to bottom half.
  5. Boil water and fill the top half of the filter to the brim.
  6. Let the coffee decoction seep through to the lower container. It takes about an hour or two.


  1. I typically add a second round of hot water to the filter to extract all the decoction. The second time around, I use only about 1/3 the amount of water. Wait till the second round of water has also percolated before using the decoction.
  2. Do not fill the filter to the brim the second time around. If you do you will have watery decoction that is of no use. 🙁
  3. South Indian Coffee powder typically has some Chicory mixed into it. The Coffee to Chicory proportion various from 90:10 to 70:30. It is the Chicory that gives the South Indian coffee its classic taste.

To Make Filter Coffee

  1. Mix about 1/3 cup of decoction with 2/3 Cups of milk. Reduce the amount of decoction if you do not like your coffee to be strong.
  2. Heat (but do not boil) the coffee to the required temperature.
  3. Add sugar, as required and mix well.
  4. Sip and enjoy!


  1. For real Kappu lovers, it is just not a beverage. It is a life sustaining liquid like water. It is a catalyst during long study sessions at night, a pleasure multiplier while reading a book or watching TV, A companion in all family chats and friend’s visits.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Do leave me a comment.