Masala Coffee|Spiced Coffee

By Published On: 28 Feb '22Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

A complex drink beautiful on the palate, this café style Masala Coffee is made with milk and spices, topped with foam and garnished with cinnamon and cocoa. Oh so good!

MASALA COFFEE – A SNACK, A HEALING TONIC OR A DESSERT!

Want to froth and steam your way to happiness, perhaps becoming your own barista might just be the answer! The torrential rain in the recent days has sparked up the barista in me and I found a much-needed healing tonic to cozy up in my lounge. With a variation from the ‘Masala Chai’, which is a world-renowned Indian spiced tea, ‘Masala Coffee’ was inevitable. I have replaced the ‘tea’ with coffee as my twist and in this case, I have substituted full strength coffee with ‘Decaf Coffee’ as my further twist!! My tolerance to coffee is very limited and it is my opinion that it tastes pretty much the same with decaffeinated coffee too!!

what is MASALA COFFEE?

Masala = Spice Coffee = Coffee

Masala Coffee is a rich, milky, fragrant and extra warming blend of boiled milk, coffee and spices. For me, Masala Coffee is a snack, sometimes a healing tonic that rejuvinates and occasionally even a dessert. Like the masala chai/tea which is made with strong black tea leaves, milk and water, simmered with sugar and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and pepper, Masala Coffee is a blend of similar ingredients (there is an infinity of customized blend of spices) but with full bodied coffee. This café style coffee is creamy as it is made with milk without the addition of water. It is topped with a layer of foam and garnished with cinnamon and cocoa for that exotic finishing taste.

The aromas that fill the surrounding air within minutes of heating the saucepan have a truly uplifting effect much before the spicy, sweet elixir touches the lips. Served with hot buttered toast or the popular Indian snack samosas, its truly a joyful sensation!

In this recipe, you can use either full strength coffee or ‘Decaf Coffee’ or coffee without caffeine. Also, like the latte or café latte, you can use any milk of your choice – full cream, low fat or skim milk, soy milk or almond milk. You can also use the sweetener of your choice. The best results are obtained with full cream milk and the froth from full cream milk. Almond milk is a good vegan substitute however in my experience almond milk does not froth as well as the full cream milk due to its low-fat content. You can also drink this ‘Masala Coffee’ without froth as froth is added to make it aesthetically attractive.

reminiscing on the good old days!

While making Masala Coffee a couple of days ago, I was reminded of my young days when my mother would wake up to the crowing of the rooster at dawn and rush to the kitchen after completing her morning rituals such as praying, etc., Once in the kitchen, she would grab a specific saucepan (used only to prepare coffee or kaapi) and start up the stove as quick as she could, awaiting to sip her 1st cup of kaapi in a quiet corner of the kitchen before the family got up. She would then join the rest of the family when they woke up for her second cuppa (little joys of motherhood!). On some days she would make both coffee and tea.

So, what is kaapi? The term ‘Kaapi’ refers to South Indian filter coffer made with finely ground beans from a region. The coffee is brewed with a special tool called coffee filter and it brews a thick rich concentrate known as decoction. Hot milk is added to this concentrate and the coffee is frothed by pouring it back and forth several times, using a wide lipped cup with a thumbler which is known as davara. There is no coffee like filter coffee, and they say filter coffee is more addictive than beer! Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for this fact as I am not a fan of coffee and I do not have friends who are totally addicted to coffee either!

As for my mum, she neither used any special coffee nor used any special tools. She neither made the decoction nor made the coffee frothy. She simply filled up a saucepan with 6 cups of water (6 members in the house). When the water came to the boil, she added the ground coffee and jaggery. Yes jaggery!! Sugar was used only for tea!! She then waited for 5 minutes for the brew to thicken and let the coffee rest for 5 minutes for the flavours to develop. Then the coffee was passed through a fine sieve and finally poured into 6 glasses. A dash of milk was added to each of the glasses at the end. That was it. That was the traditional way of making coffee then and it is still the way adopted by many people in South India. It made a very delicious coffee. I guess in the absence of coffee making tools, one learns to invent his/her own ways of dealing with different situations. Necessity is surely the mother of invention!!

Hands up if you agree with me that you do not need special tools to make a creamy, frothy Masala Coffee at home! You could use an equipment/machine if you had one, as many regular coffee drinkers would buy one for their home. Such an equipment/machine would produce the characteristic industrial strength brew as they extract the coffee from the beans with pressurised steam or hot water. I would hardly call myself a regular drinker and in fact, far from it. My consumption of coffee could easily be counted with one hand on an annual basis. Ja ja, I rarely drink coffee and so does my family.

The ‘Masala Coffeethat I am making today is a taste from my young days and is a two-step creation – preparing the milk and then adding the spices. Masala Coffee does not require any equipment or machine for the brew to come together. It is done on a stove top with a standard medium size saucepan. Its important to use a large enough saucepan that can hold the expansion as the milk froths when coming to the boil. Just to be on the safe side, I have used a 12-cup capacity stainless steel saucepan.

Tips and tricks

What sweetener to use?

As for sweeteners, you can use granulated sugar or any sweeteners of your choice such as Equal, Stevia, etc., I prefer mine with granulated sugar as I drink coffee only on rare occasions.

You can also serve this coffee sweetened or unsweetened.

If you do not like to use any sweeteners, you can try drizzling some maple syrup over your glass although I am not so sure, if this taste appeals to some!

 

What milk to use?

Unlike the masala chai which uses 2 parts of water to 1 part of milk ratio to make the tea, ‘Masala Coffee’ is made purely with milk. You may use full cream milk, low fat or skim milk, almond milk or soy milk for this recipe. Best results are obtained from full cream milk due to its high fat content and full cream froth, but the other types of milk are good substitutes if you are watching your fat content or looking for a vegan alternative.

What coffee to use?

You may use coffee of your choice. I am not a coffee drinker and hence I am unable to suggest the different coffee that can be used. I have used Nescafe Gold Original (full strength) and Nescafe Decaf for making my Masala Coffee on different occasions. Both coffee types work very well for this recipe. You may like to experiment with your favourite coffee types if you are into using different types of coffee.

What spices to use?

Indian people have their own spice combinations, and these combinations are closely guarded secrets. Each household has its own spice combinations and also the spice combinations vary from region to region. Try out a few of your favourite spices and personalise the Masala Coffee. I use a blend of freshly pounded ginger, bruised cardamom pods with skin, cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for the garnish. You can use cloves, star anise, pepper and fennel. The most important thing is to use spices that you love and get the balance of flavours just right. One spice should not overpower the other. The spices should all be in harmony for that perfect lip-smacking spicy elixir.

how to froth full cream milk and almond milk?

I have a very small, cheap milk frother and I use the manufacturer’s instructions on the cover to froth the milk. Milk frothers vary in price and how they are used. In my frother, to froth the milk, I pour the milk into the glass beaker up to the indicator line. Place the glass only in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Remove the glass from the microwave, place the lid and plunger assembly into the beaker and pump 15-20 times. Then scoop the froth on to the top of my coffee and garnish with cinnamon and cocoa. A simple frother will give you a reasonably stiff froth.

 

If you do not have a frother, to froth cold milk, pour the cold milk in a medium jar with a lid ideally no more than 1/3 of the jar. Secure the lid tightly and shake vigorously till the milk has doubled in volume. Please note this froth will not be a stiff froth like the frother.

To froth hot milk, heat milk in a medium saucepan till it comes to the boil. Whisk the milk till you see a thick layer of froth. This method will give you good froth but it will not be a stiff froth like the frother.

how to froth almond milk?

Almond milk can be frothed just like milk but again the foam will be limp and not as stiff as a frother. Its perfectly fine for home made coffee. To froth cold almond milk, pour the cold milk in a medium jar with a lid ideally no more than 1/3 of the jar. Secure the lid tightly and shake vigorously till the milk has a good volume of froth. Please note this froth will not be a stiff froth like the frother.

To froth warm almond milk, heat milk in a medium saucepan till it comes to the boil. Do not overboil the milk. Whisk the milk till you see a good volume of froth. This method will give you good froth but it will not be a stiff froth like the frother.

serving suggestions

Masala Coffee can be served as a snack, a rejuvinating drink or sometimes as a dessert. It can be served sweetened or unsweetened. It can be served with froth or without froth. It can be served with garnishes such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa or served without the garnishes. This coffee is great with Indian savoury snacks such as samosas, bajjeas or Butter Rice Chakli. Also delicious served with hot buttered toast.

how to make masala coffee using stove top method?

For your Masala Coffee, start with all the ingredients ready to go.

Milk – Full cream, low fat, skim, soy or almond milk

Sugar – granulated, Equal or Stevia

Green cardamom pods

Fresh ginger

Roasted coffee – regular or decaf

Cinnamon Stick

Ground cinnamon and cocoa for garnish

Place milk and sugar on low heat in a deep heavy based saucepan, large enough for the milk to expand when heating. Stir well and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the skin from the milk if you wish.

While the milk is simmering, pound the cardamom pods lightly in a pestle and mortar so as to release their flavour, if you have not already done so. Add to the milk. Lightly pound the ginger. Add to the milk.

Add the coffee and the cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine.

Simmer for 3 minutes for the flavours to develop, ensuring the liquid does not overflow. Place on very low heat, if the liquid is expanding to the surface.

Remove from heat and pass through a fine sieve.

Passing through the sieve is an important step to get rid of any fibre from the ginger or seeds from the cardamom pods released during the brewing process.

Once sieved, lip-smacking masala coffee is ready to be poured into glasses.

Masala coffee served with hand whisked froth and without the garnishes

Masala coffee garnished with frother made froth, ground cinnamon and cocoa

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Masala Coffee|Spiced Coffee

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
A complex drink that is so beautiful on the palate, this Masala Coffee is a reminder that café society is live, well and living at home.  Prepared with familiar ingredients true to my roots, this café style coffee is creamy made with milk and no water.  Served garnished with a layer of foam, cinnamon and cocoa for that exotic finishing taste. 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Bevereges, Drinks
Cuisine Indian, Mangalorean, South Indian
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 500 mL full cream milk or almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar (approx. 25-35g sugar) or sweetener of your choice
  • 6 green cardamom pods with skin
  • 4 cm piece of ginger (18g-20g)
  • 1½-2 tbsp. (7g-10g) instant coffee or Decaf coffee or to taste
  • 5 cm piece cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon for garnish
  • ½ tsp. cocoa for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Place milk/almond milk along with sugar in a medium size heavy based saucepan. Place on low heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  • While the milk is simmering, lightly pound cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and add them to the milk. Pound the ginger lightly to release some juices and add only the crushed ginger to the simmering milk. Do not add the juices as the enzymes in the juice can curdle the milk. Add coffee and cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine and continue to simmer for 3 minutes allowing the flavours to develop, ensuring the liquid does not overflow. Reduce heat to very low, if the liquid tends to rise to the top.
  • Remove from heat and strain through a large fine sieve into a deep jug. Pour coffee into two medium size glasses, top with milk foam (See Section above 'How to froth full cream milk and almond milk?'), garnish with ground cinnamon and cocoa. Serve immediately on its own or with any savoury/sweet snacks of your choice. This coffee is awesome with my Leftover Crispy Fried Sannas, or Biscuit Ambade/ Medu Vada or 'Pancakes with Coconut and Jaggery' or Butter Rice Chakli.

Notes

  1. Almond milk coffee is a lighter version and hence it is not so creamy as a traditional masala coffee.  I use Sanitarium So Good Almond Original Milk.  It comes in 1 litre carton and is sold in the Woolworths supermarkets.  
  2. I use Nescafe Gold Original or Nescafe Gold Decaf. Both yield good results. I am not a coffee drinker hence I used Nescafe Gold Decaf. You can use full strength or decaf as per your preference.
  3. I use Nestle Bakers’ Choice Cocoa. You can use any cocoa of your choice.
  4. If you have a milk frother, you can froth either full cream milk or almond milk (whichever milk is the base of your coffee) and top up the coffee with some froth before you garnish with cinnamon and cocoa. FYI, full cream milk gets more froth due to the high level of cream compared to almond milk.
Keyword Coffee, Indian Coffee, Masala Coffee, Spiced coffee
Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

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