Coffee: The Kartha Way(s)

Considering I’m a Punjabi, I was more of a tea person than a coffee person growing up. But something changed along the way and coffee started growing on me. And then ACTUAL coffee (versus instant) became my preference. And eventually, I became a snob who just cannot have instant and pre-mixed coffee. (PS – I’m not a snob in the “brand name” / imported coffee kind of way! Any old Indian/ locally grown will do, as long as it’s not instant.)

Also, it helps that I am not sensitive to caffeine – it doesn’t cause me to lose sleep or break out. (Although maybe I shouldn’t speak too soon!) Just to give you an example of the confusion that runs through my head everytime I want coffee, I decided to share my thought process (don’t judge my artistic skills):

ItΒ  takes me forever to decide!! If you can’t figure out where to begin on the scribble, I suggest bottom left corner!

Anyhow, I thought I would share a few ways that I make coffee at home. I’ll stay away from the Cappuccino & Latte options because AK makes those using his fancy cappuccino machine. And that involves simply following the manufacturers instructions!

First I’ll share the final products and then you can scroll down to the bottom for the basics!

(Disclaimer: This is a LONG post. I mean look at the number of options above!!!)

Hot Filter Coffee

1 serving filter decoction/ concentrate (method below)
200 ml boiling milk
sugar to taste

Place the boiling milk in a cup (250 ml capacity).

Add the filter decoction and sugar..

Take another cup of the same size and pour back and forth between the 2 cups a few times until nice and frothy…

Serve hot!!

  1. The decoction must be fresh & hot
  2. The milk should be (rolling) boiling hot else it won’t froth well!

Iced Caffe Latte

350 ml cold milk
4-5 ice cubes
1 serving filter decoction
Sugar to taste

Pour the cold milk over ice in a tall 500 ml glass. Pour the filter decoction over it.

Add sugar and stir! I usually have it without sugar, so I avoid the stirring and let the coffee seep down into the milk for a minute or so!

Iced Black Coffee

Method 1:
1 serving filter decoction
4-5 ice cubes
Cold water to top
Sugar to taste

In a tall 500 ml glass, pour the decoction over ice. Add sugar & stir. Top with cold water & give it another stir. (Sorry no picture, but it looks just like the one in Method 2 below!)

Method 2:
1 serving cold brewed coffee (method below)
4-5 ice cubes
Cold water to top
Sugar to taste

In a tall 500 ml glass, pour the cold brewed coffee halfway up the glass.

Add ice and top with water.

Add sugar & serve cold.


Coffee Slushy

1 serving coffee ice cubes (method below)
2-3 tbsp condensed milk or Baileys Irish Cream (if you’re feeling boozy!)

Place the ice cubes in the blender jar (please check your blender instructions – most don’t recommend blending hard ice cubes. They must be semi crushed already or they might break the blades). At this point, mine weren;t fully set and were still slightly watery so I took a chance!

Blend until you hit slush c0nsistency…

Spoon into short, wide glasses – like whisky glasses.

Drizzle Condensed Milk or Baileys on top…

Serve with dessert spoons!

Coffee Mocha Ice Cream Smoothie

1 serving coffee ice cubes
1 scoop chocolate chip ice cream
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Splash of milk (I didn’t add it in this round but it really adds to it)
Chocolate malt powder to dust
Chocolate Chips/ Chunks and chopped walnuts for garnish!

In a blender, put the ice cubes…

The chocolate chip ice cream…

The vanilla ice cream…

Blend. Stop halfway to give it a stir. Add milk, if using and blend again.

With milk, its more of a smoothie consistency. Without, it becomes more of a slushy – which is what I made but on retrospect, I like the smoothie better. A little less ICY! Anyhow, scoop/ pour into glasses..

Dust the top with chocolate malt powder (you can also use cocoa/ drinking chocolate/ instant coffee/ cinnamon).

Top with a few chocolate chips/ chunks and walnuts before serving!


Coffee Ice Cream Float

1 serving cold brewed coffee
1 scoop vanilla ice crea
soda to top
splash of Grand Marnier for a citrusy-cognacy flavour!

In a tall 500 ml glass, put a scoop of vanilla ice cream…

Add a splash of Grand Marnier…

And 1 serving of the cold brewed coffee…

Top with soda and serve…

Note: instead of Grand Marnier, you can experiment with Kahlua/ Tia Maria/ Baileys/ Patron Coffee liquer etc.

OK Now the basics, the Kartha way!!

The Coffee

More often than not, I use Perfect Coffee, made by Cafe Coffee Day and available at any CCD outlet. It’s 70% Arabica coffee and 30% chicory (which some purists may scoff at, but I like the consistency and texture it adds to the coffee. It doesn’t have any flavour so it doesn’t add/ subtract anything from the coffee). They have other brands with different ratios of coffee-chicory and also pure coffee. CCD outlets are all over the place so this is the most convenient.

When I can find the time and energy to make the effort, I drag myself to Usha Coffee in Munirka, where it is IMPOSSIBLE to find parking and is a tow away zone to top, I buy their freshly ground coffee. There are no brand names, just varieties – Arabica, Robusta, Plantation, Peaberry and the House Blend. You can get these ground and packaged straight up, or with any proportion of chicory you like. I usually buy all the varieties and alternate them! I do like Peaberry and Robusta more, I think. I can’t decide!

Such coffee can also be bought from Dewan’s in Lodhi Market and Indian Coffee Board in CP.

How Much Coffee?

I use 1 heaped tbsp of coffee grounds for 1 moderate strength serving. Whether you’re making a concentrate/ decoction/ full cup or glass will determine the ratio of water.

The Apparatus

I use any of the following, depending on my mood:

  1. South Indian Coffee Filter: good for hot filter coffee (milky, strong, typically served in small glasses/ cups) and for making iced latte (cold, milky coffee). It’s also good for making coffee decoction/ concentrate for a small number of people. I have 2 filters – serves 2 and serves 6.
  2. French Press: good for hot coffee – either black or with milk on the side – simple, no fuss or fluff. I have an 8 serving press so I usually use it only if I have 4 or more people to serve!
  3. Cappuccino Maker: using this, I can make cappuccino, latte and espresso. But I usually leave the operation of this to AK!
  4. None of the above: if you don’t have any of the above, you can still hot or cold brew coffee. Details below..!

Let’s begin!!

South Indian Coffee Filter

It has 4 parts – collection cylinder, filter cylinder (with perforations), pressing disc & the lid. This is a 2 serving filter so at most, I use 2 heaped tbsp of coffee. Begin by assembling the filter – stack the perforated cyclinder over the other one…

Then add the coffee…

Press down on it with the pressing disc, stick pointing upwards. My friend Revati’s told me her mom sprinkles a little more than a pinch on the outside of the disc too (while the rest of the coffee is trapped beneath the disc). It adds some thickness (if that term can be used for a liquid) for the “decoction” or concentrate. Then add boiling water (this is imperative – the water cannot be warm or just hot. It needs to be rolling boiling water). You need about 45-50 ml of boiling water per serving of coffee.

Close the lid and let it rest for about 10 mins. This small filter takes about 10 mins but the larger the filter and more the coffee+water, the longer it will take. I usually do the prep before I go in for a shower in the mornings and by the time I’m out, the decoction is ready!

French Press

This has 2 parts – the glass cylinder/ kettle and the plunger lid. This is probably the simplest one to make.

The coffee measure remains the same – 1 heaped tbsp per cup and water to be added according to the size of your cup and the press capacity. For example, if I want 4 cups, then I will fill water to the half way mark in my 8 cup kettle.

First, measure out the coffee into the kettle.

Pour in the boiling hot water…

Give the coffee a good stir with a spoon to make sure no clumps of dry coffee are in there…

That’s my mom’s hand btw, in case you were wondering! Put on the plunger lid, with the press portion resting just at the top of the water level… Don’t press down the plunger yet…

Let it brew and rest for 3-4 minutes. Then press down on the plunger as far as it will go and hold down for a few seconds. This should release all the essential oils and flavour from the coffee grounds into the brew… Sorry I don’t have a pic of that part!

Then pour it out into cups and serve with milk & sugar on the side! Here I’m pouring it back into my measuring cup because I brewed this lot to make Coffee Ice Cubes…

Coffee Ice Cubes

Here I was making coffee ice cubes for 4 people, so I used 2 ice trays, 3 cups water (half cold and half boiling to brew the coffee) and 4 heaped tbsp of coffee.

I like to use a combination of hot & cold water because if hot coffee is left to cool, I find it becomes stale very quick.

I brewed the coffee in 1-1/2 cups hot water in the French Press (shown above). Then I watered it down with 1-1/2 cups cold water and poured it into 2 ice cube trays…

I placed the trays in the freezer for a couple of hours to set. Looked something like this when done…

By this recipes proportions, 7 ice cubes made 1 serving (28 cubes divided by 4!). You can make the ice cubes more watery or concentrated, depending on the requirement!! That is, if you like your drinks very icy then 6-8 cubes should contain 1 serving of coffee grounds. Or, if like me, you have a lower tolerance towards ice, you can restrict it to 2-4 ice cubes and make it highly concentrated.

Simple Hot Brewing

If you don’t own a filter/ French Press/ Espresso Maker/ Stove Top Moka Pot, then you can still brew black coffee. Take 1 heaped tbsp coffee grounds in a cup, add boiling hot water and give it a good stir. Let it sit for 3-4 mins and strain through a very fine seive. Some finer grains might still get through, but they’ll settle at the bottom of you cup. No big deal!

Simple Cold Brewing

I had no idea that coffee could be cold brewed until I read a post of Pioneer Woman! It’s been the most amazing discovery and all summer, my fridge is never missing a big jug of cold brewed coffee. This is amazing for instant iced black coffee or iced latte. No waiting for the filter and all that.

This is best done in large batches rather than for 1-2 cups. I usually make enough for 20 servings and keep it highly concentrated, but this particular batch was less concentrated and made 10 servings.

I bought a 2.5 litre lidded jug JUST for this! I measured out 10 heaped tbsp of coffee grounds into the jug…

Then I added cold water almost all the way to the top of the jug…

I gave the whole mix a good stir to make sure all the coffee and water was in contact.

I put on the lid and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I stirred it and got a big bowl ready, over which I put a seive lined with a clean tea towel. This one happened to be white but I try and reserve a dark coloured one specially for this – because its a pain getting the coffee stains out. Anyhow, I strained the coffee slowly through it, stopping and stirring when required…

When all the liquid had drained, I gather the ends of the tea towel and squeezed the remaining liquid out…

I rinsed out the jug to get rid of any grounds and poured the coffee into it and stored in the fridge. This lasts perfectly in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (if I don’t polish it sooner that is).I prefer this for iced coffees because cold brewed doesn’t seem to get stale, unlike hot brewed.


  1. As mentioned before, 1 heaped tbsp is good enough for a moderate strength coffee.
  2. I use a 500 ml glass so, using the above math, I fill half with this coffee and top with ice and cold water. Normally, I brew 20 tbsp/ 1 200 gm packet in this same jug so I use 1/4 glass concentrate and top with ice and cold water. Depending on the size of your jug, you can do the math.
  3. If you use the more concentrated version, then it makes excellent iced latte too – 1/4 glass concentrate topped with ice and cold milk.

The End

WHEW!!! That was a LOOOOOONG post, but I hope you get some yummy coffee out of it!!

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  • arjunkarthaphotography

    Very good!! Now make me some coffee!!

    • Food-Dee-Dum

      Haha I already made a jug full! The least you can do is serve it to me!!

  • hAAthi

    What an awesome post! Got to be my favourite in a long while πŸ˜›
    And dont call me weird, but I recognised your moms hand, stopped at the picture and noted it before I actually read your comment πŸ˜›

    • Food-Dee-Dum

      Hahaha @ my mom’s hand!!

      Thanks da! I was really worried that this post was too long winded! I re-wrote it like 7 times before publishing :)

  • Vivek Gulati

    Wow!very nicely explained and demonstrated,now even a raw person like me can attempt,keep them on!!!

    • Food-Dee-Dum

      Thank you san! Hopefully NG will get some inspiration and become the coffee-maker at home!!

  • Priya Kasbekar Patil

    Praerna… this was exactly what I was looking for!! Thank you!
    Waiting for a Sambar…the Kartha way recipe :)

    • Food-Dee-Dum

      You’re welcome. And I’m so sorry I forgot about the Sambhar. It’s not an interesting subject for AK so it looks like it may not end up on the blog. But I will definitely email the recipe to you tonight. Setting a reminder as I type!

  • niyatiupadhya

    BEST post EVER!! πŸ˜€ too good i say!

    • Food-Dee-Dum

      Thanks da Niyu!!

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