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Madras Filter Coffee

Published under: Coffee
An iconic dish from the Southern city of Chennai (Madras).

Filter Coffee is one of the iconic beverages in Madras (now called Chennai). An aromatic and refreshing drink to start your day, Chennai’s filter coffee culture is world famous, especially with the brahmin communities. There are many people who cannot start their day with a cup of filter coffee and The Hindu newspaper.  Almost every household has a family recipe for this hugely popular filter kaapi (as it is also known as).

Madras Filter Coffee

In most homes, people use a traditional coffee filter with two containers – one to put the powder and second where the decoction is collected. The traditional way of serving the coffee is via dabara set (one small tumbler with a small container). This recipe of Madras Filter Coffee uses the traditional coffee filter, however if you have a coffee machine you are free to use that. Do remember, the ingredients for the coffee is the same but the manner in which it is made along with the proportions make the difference.

The South Indian filter coffee is known by various names – Kaapi, Kumbakonam Degree Coffee, Mylapore Filter Coffee, Madras Kaapi and so on..

Learn how to make best filter coffee at home with our simple recipe below.

Madras Filter Coffee
5 from 3 votes

Madras Filter Coffee

An iconic dish from the Southern city of Chennai (Madras).
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: South Indian
Keyword: Coffee, madras


  • Milk - 500 ml standard packet
  • 4 to 5 tbsp Coffee Powder
  • Sugar as required


  • Boil 1 cup of water over medium flame.
  • Add the coffee powder in the perforated container that comes on top and place it over the lower container where the coffee decoction is collected.
  • Place the press over it.
  • Pour the boiled water into the upper container, over the powder, until the rim.
  • Leave it to drip into the container at the bottom.
  • The decoction gets collected in the bottom container.
  • Boil fresh milk and keep it ready.
  • Add required sugar and coffee decoction into a tumbler/mug depending on your taste. Some will want it light while some would prefer it strong.
  • Pour hot milk into the tumbler/mug.
  • If you want some froth, pour it from a height of 1 to 1 1/2 ft.
  • Serve hot


In order to make the traditional filter coffee, use freshly ground coffee powder. Do not use the instant powders.

Frequently Asked Questions about South Indian Filter Coffee

What is the difference between South Indian Filter Coffee and regular coffee?

South Indian Filter Coffee is a unique and traditional preparation that distinguishes it from regular coffee. The main difference lies in the brewing method and the blend of coffee used. In South Indian Filter Coffee, a unique metal coffee filter called a “decanter” is used to brew the coffee. The coffee grounds are placed in the upper compartment of the filter, and hot water is poured over them. The brewed coffee slowly drips into the lower compartment, resulting in a rich, flavorful, and aromatic cup of coffee. On the other hand, regular coffee is often prepared using a drip coffee maker or instant coffee, which produces a different taste and texture. South Indian Filter Coffee is known for its intense flavour, smooth texture, and the addition of frothy milk.

Can I make South Indian Filter Coffee without a coffee filter?

While a coffee filter is traditionally used to make South Indian Filter Coffee, it is possible to prepare a similar version without one. One alternative method is using a French press. Add coarsely ground coffee and hot water to the French press, steep for a few minutes, and then press down the plunger slowly. This will separate the brewed coffee from the grounds, similar to the filtration process in a coffee filter. Another option is using a paper filter and a funnel. Place the coffee grounds in the filter, pour hot water over them, and let it drip through the funnel into a container. Although these methods may not provide the exact taste and texture of authentic South Indian Filter Coffee, they can still give you a delicious cup of coffee with a similar flavour profile.

Can I make South Indian Filter Coffee with any coffee beans?

For an authentic taste, it is recommended to use specific coffee beans suitable for South Indian Filter Coffee. The most popular choice is a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Arabica beans contribute to the aroma and flavour complexity, while Robusta beans add body and a rich crema. The coffee beans should be medium to dark roast to produce desired flavours. However, suppose you don’t have access to a specific South Indian blend. In that case, you can experiment with other coffee beans to create your unique version. Try using a single-origin coffee or different combinations to discover new flavours. Remember that the taste profile may differ from the traditional South Indian Filter Coffee. However, it can still produce a delicious cup of coffee with distinct characteristics.

Can I make South Indian Filter Coffee without adding sugar?

Yes, absolutely! South Indian Filter Coffee can be prepared with or without sugar, depending on your preference. Traditionally, adding sugar to the coffee while brewing is common to achieve a balanced flavour. However, if you prefer your coffee without sugar, you can omit it during the brewing process. Instead, you can sweeten your coffee with alternative sweeteners like jaggery, honey, or artificial sweeteners according to your taste. Some people also enjoy the strong and bold flavour of South Indian Filter Coffee without any sweetener. It’s all about personal preference, so customize your coffee to suit your taste buds.

Can I serve South Indian Filter Coffee with any accompaniments?

Absolutely! South Indian Filter Coffee pairs well with various accompaniments to enhance the overall experience. A popular choice is to serve it with a traditional South Indian breakfast like idli, dosa, or vada. Combining the strong coffee with the savoury and crispy breakfast creates a delightful culinary experience. 


Avatar of FlavourCulture
FlavourCulture May 5, 2022 - 10:01 pm

Great content Thanks for sharing, Madras filter coffee is one of the oldest traditional coffee making process in india

Avatar of Sakura
Sakura December 17, 2021 - 5:09 pm

Love this filter coffee recipe. Very easy to understand and follow

Avatar of A South Indian
A South Indian August 25, 2010 - 7:27 am

LOL…this might be how some of the chennai hotels might serve coffee. But pls dont insult the Tamilians by posting this as ‘Madras Filter Coffee’. 🙂

Avatar of Ajay meena
Ajay meena August 5, 2010 - 4:27 pm

BS….instant coffee is not filter cofee
chomu recipe

Avatar of Anns
Anns July 8, 2010 - 2:19 am

Unauthentic! It has nothing to do with a filter and is just a recipe for diluted instant cofee.


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