Malgudi Days

Interesting Coffee Traditions Across India

Interesting Coffee Traditions Across India

Everyone knows that India is rich in cultural diversity. With this diversity comes a range of customs and traditions, especially cuisine-related, that are worth being shared.

How is it that a country of primarily tea-drinkers adapted to the coffee culture so quickly? 

In this post, we explore a couple of interesting coffee traditions practised across India and the rationale behind it. 


Kulhads & Tandoori Coffee

Kulhads are tumblers made of clay or mud. While earthenware is common to many regions in Asia, kulhads have deep roots in ancient Indian cultures.

When hot beverages like tea or coffee are poured into a kulhad, it keeps the drink hot for longer and also enhances the flavour. You’ll find that coffee is served in kulhads in quaint tea stalls across the country.

Now, the word “tandoori” is something most people associate with smoky, flavourful kebabs and not really coffee.

So how then did this drink come to be, and what can you expect from a tandoori coffee?

First seen in Hyderabad, a city in South India, the tandoori coffee is presented in kulhads.

What’s special about tandoori coffee is not the brew alone but the way it is prepared. Kulhads are placed in a preheated tandoor (a traditional oven) until they are well-roasted. 

kulhad coffees

The magic happens when the coffee is poured into the hot kulhads, adding a smoky flavour to the coffee. This tradition of pouring coffee into a hot kulhad is not one you’ll find in many places. So, if you get the chance to try it, definitely go for it.


Adding Spices

As you know, Indians always have room for spices and herbs in their cuisines; after all, anything to make that dish or beverage more flavourful.

Making spiced coffee is one such norm that has been passed on for generations in Indian families. 

It is similar to how masala chai is prepared in that the combination of spices added depends entirely on the person brewing the coffee. 

Apart from the taste itself, such a combination brings more warmth and can instantly uplift your mood.


Using a Dabara

A dabara set functions similarly to the cup and saucer duo. It contains a tumbler and a bowl made of either stainless steel or brass and is unique to South India. 

It is used to serve filter kaapi traditionally in both coffee shops as well as homes.

Most South Indians will be able to tell you a thing or two about how their family would prepare filter coffee every day in the most ritualistic way, devoting time and effort to get the brew just right.

coffee dabara set

With the dabara, one can pour the piping hot kaapi back and forth between the tumbler and the bowl to not only cool it down but also add a texture to the coffee that simply makes the whole experience that much more delicious.

Drinking coffee out of a dabara set is nothing like sipping coffee from a porcelain mug. While the latter has its own appeal, the former is something of a cultural tradition that carries the comfort of home.



Coffees that come out of India include both arabica and robusta coffees. Of course, they have a distinct taste, but the coffee traditions go one step further to add an interesting touch of culture.

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