There is no other coffee in the world that can be any better than filter coffee. That is the rule in my house and we are pretty serious about it. As I was growing up, I had always been among people who are serious coffee drinkers. There are different ways they liked their coffee, but what made it all come together was that it was filter coffee. My dad likes his coffee strong with no sugar/little sugar. He likes the bitterness of the coffee to come through. My mother likes it lighter, with loads of sugar in it. She sees the sweet side of the coffee. My husband likes it right in between, medium colored with just the right amount of sugar. In between all these people, I like my coffee any of these ways, but it has it has to be Filter Coffee! 🙂
Our big chunk of baggage on our trip back to US from India will be coffee powder. My dad buys it from one of the coffee stores in Mylapore, Chennai and he has a particular blend that tastes great. He buys the Pea berry A variety which is then roasted and ground. The blend has just the right amount of chicory mixed into it (50 gms of chicory to 500 gms of coffee powder) to give the coffee the perfect texture and body. Now that I mentioned chicory, it is nothing but a root of plant that is processed and ground. During recession, when coffee was in shortage, chicory was used to brew coffee. It came pretty close to a good coffee and hence has been an additive to the coffee. The ratio of chicory to coffee is very essential to maintain that balance. I have seen that several packaged filter coffee brands have very high amount of chicory and that does not taste too pleasant.
Once my coffee stock from India is exhausted, we start buying the coffee here. We usually buy the roasted whole bean and grind it as per our requirement. Few years ago we did invest in a pretty powerful coffee grinder that works great. It is important to grind the coffee in a high power machine, because once the machine heats up, it heats the beans inside and that releases the oil in the coffee and it is not very pleasant. Also one could use the commercial grinder available in the stores to grind the beans that they buy. We tend to lean more towards the African and the South American coffee blends and also make sure that the beans are either dark roasted (which is perfect) or medium roasted (commonly found).
Once we bring the bean or powder home, we mix it with the Green label Coffee powder. Green label has a higher amount of chicory, so we add it in this coffee to give it the chicory additive. The ratio that we use the coffee to green label is about 3:1.
I also put the decoction for the coffee the night before (I have to confess that my husband does this and not me). This way we have it ready to go for the morning. In India, I have noticed that people drink the coffee from the first decoction that comes out of the filter. This is the strongest of the lot and hence is the most flavorful. The second brew is sometimes consumed as a second coffee dose in the late morning or discarded. I usually blend the first and the second brew and use it. The second brew is little thinner than the first one, but when mixed with, is not bad at all.
The perfect filter coffee also needs the milk to be boiled over the gas and not by any other alternative methods. Following these steps would ensure a perfect beginning of a beautiful day. This recipe or basics tutorial is for the first week of Blogging Marathon under the category Kitchen Basics.
I have few different varieties of coffee filter that I own, but below shown are the 2 most commonly used ones in the kitchen. Depending upon the size of the filter, the amount of coffee powder would vary. As a rule of thumb, the upper chamber of the filter is filled almost half with the coffee powder and the remaining half will be filled with water. I usually go a little less than half.
For the decoction –
- Coffee powder – 3 -4 tbsp (depending upon the size of the filter)
- Boiling hot water
- A small jug to collect the decoction
- Boiled milk – ¾ cup (should be boiled and simmering)
- Sugar – 1 tsp (or based on your liking)
- Decoction – about 3-4 tbsps (depending on how dark you like the coffee)
- Davara and Tumbler – the traditional cup and saucer of a South Indian household
- Prepare the coffee filter by fitting the two compartments together.
- Add the coffee powder to the top compartment and press it down with the plunger attachment that comes with the filter (I could not find the plunger attachment, so used a small glass to press it down). When pressing down, the amount of pressure applied is very important. If too tightly pressed, the water will not be able to seep through and hence it will take a very long time for the decoction to come down. If pressed too lightly, the water will filter through the coffee powder too quickly and hence might result in a thinner decoction. By practice and trial, one could master the perfect pressure.
- Boil water in a small pan. Once the water boils, slowly add it over the coffee powder in thin stream going around the filter in the periphery. This is to ensure even distribution of the water. Fill it with water all the way to the top.
- Now close the filter and let it do its little magic in filtering out the decoction. This will take 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the coffee powder.
- Once all the water has disappeared from the top you could remove the decoction from the bottom compartment and pour it in a small covered jug. It is important to keep the decoction covered at all the times to prevent it from losing its aroma. This will be the first thick decoction.
- Repeat the same process again to make the second decoction and pour this along with the first one in the small jug. The decoction is now ready to use.
- Heat the milk in a small sauce pan. Once the milk boils, carefully pour it into the tumbler and add the sugar to it. Now pour the milk into the davara and back into the tumbler couple of times to create the froth and to dissolve the sugar.
- Now add the decoction to the milk and repeat the mixing process for couple more times.
- Serve piping hot with a layer of froth on top!
- To get the best flavor, always use fresh coffee powder and fresh milk. This is one reason, we grind our coffee beans periodically ourselves and not grind the whole bunch.
- Never heat the decoction or the coffee directly over the flame. It will absolutely spoil the taste and flavor of the coffee. The tip I learned from my mother is that she boils some water and places the decoction inside the hot water for few minutes to heat it up. This is very essential for people living in colder places, since adding the cold decoction will instantly bring the coffee temperature down.