A true south Indian love made from freshly brewed decoction, drip by drip, mixed with hot milk and a spoonful of sugar, poured into a cup with scintillating aromas and delightfully textured frothiness that tastes like heaven - that’s South Indian Filter Coffee for you. Or famously called KAAPI by most South Indians. You can take an Indian from India, but you can’t take the love for filter coffee from a South Indian. Now there is a reason why Indian Filter Coffee has its origin in South India and why the name “South Indian Filter Coffee” came into existence.
A little story on Coffee’s origin in India. In 1600 AD a Sufi saint named Bababudan went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. On his journey back from Mocha ( a port city in Yemen ) famous for Mocha Coffee beans, he secretly bought back 7 coffee beans by hiding them in his beard. Bababudan discovered that Arabs were using coffee beans to prepare a dark and sweetish drink called Qahwa. Fascinated by the drink he couldn’t resist his urge to bring seven beans to India.
After Returning from his Pilgrimage, he planted 7 coffee beans in his Courtyard in Chikmagalur ( South of India ) - The birthplace of Coffee in India. The hills were named after him as Bababudan Hills. A few say this might be one of the reasons why Indian Filter Coffee came to be known as South Indian Filter Coffee.
Our homegrown coffee Panduranga Coffee comes from the sky kissing high altitude coffee plantations in Chikmagalur. The entire process of Berry to Blend, from coffee grown, to handpicked, to processing, roasting, blending, cupping & packaging takes place in Chikmagalur.
There are a lot of other stories on how South Indian Filter Coffee originated. Some legends say it was the French and Germans who introduced South Indian Filter coffee in the 17th Century. Some say during World War 2 all sea routes were closed and India had a severe shortage of coffee supply. Due to the shortage Coffee was mixed with Chicory ( a coffee additive ). Chicory adds a hint of a sweetish taste and smell to coffee which is where the South Indian Filter Coffee gets its flavours from. This was the time when the Coffee Board of India was created to handle and control the coffee supply in India. Indian filter coffee was popularised by the India Coffee Houses run by the Coffee Board of India in the mid-1940s. It became the drink of millions after the emergence of more popular Indian Coffee Houses in the mid-1950s.
Yet another South Indian Filter Coffee origin story goes like this. Coffee drinking in India was part of the Upper-class Brahmins’ morning ritual. They preferred having their hot breakfast with hot coffee. In an era when casteism was so prevalent in India, the lower caste known as Sudras were curious about the Upper-Class Coffee drinking ritual. They replaced eating cold rice with having hot coffee in the morning. South Indian Filter Coffee became a normal person’s drink breaking the cliched divide between upper-class and lower-class rituals. The habit of coffee consumption become a part of every household in Tamil Nadu and became widespread in the other Indian States after the launch of Indian Coffee Houses.
All the history combined one can conclude that the roots of Indian coffee began in the South region as most of the coffee growing regions are in the South of India ( Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala ). Once religiously consumed as a morning drink, South Indian Filter Coffee/Kaapi now is relished anytime during the day and is liked by millions all over the world.