DrinksCoffeeMiddle-Eastern CookingSpices

For Middle Eastern-Style Coffee, Add Cardamom

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This morning, like so many other caffeine-addicted humans, you probably blindly grabbed for your bag of coffee beans, ground them, and used your regular method to make them into something drinkable—and then you drank it, and fast.

But! Tomorrow, when you pull down the beans, the grinder, and the mug, head to your spice cabinet, too, and grab the cardamom.

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Cardamom coffee is nothing new: It's long been added to morning and afternoon brews throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia—Turkey, India, Israel, Bahrain, Pakistan—where cardamom is grown. One of my favorite Indian delis makes a sweet, milky cardamom iced coffee that I order to go with a dosa; it's creamy and smooth, and floral from the cardamom.

There's a secret ingredient in there.
There's a secret ingredient in there. Photo by James Ransom

You can make cardamom coffee at home just as easily as you make your regular cup of coffee: Add a pod or two of green cardamom to your regular scoopfuls of beans before grinding, then proceed as usual: Grind, brew, slurp. (I haven't tried this with pre-ground cardamom, though I'm sure it would work—but, as with coffee beans, I'd recommend grinding fresh.)

More: When you're ready to go back to a cardamom-less coffee, you'll want to clean out your grinder. Here's how.

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Turkish styles of cardamom coffee are usually drunk black, but many iterations (and my favorite ones) are doctored with milk and sometimes sugar. Try it both ways. Linger a little longer than usual over your cup, with your face right in the spicy coffee steam, and your eyes closed.

Do you add any spices—cinnamon? vanilla? nutmeg?—to your coffee? Tell us about it!

Tags: coffee, cardamom, spices, arabic coffee