For Middle Eastern-Style Coffee, Add Cardamom

February 25, 2016

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.

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. 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.)

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

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“i added a few shakes of ground cardamom (frowned upon, i know) to my aeropress grounds before adding water. ”
— melissa

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!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Troy P. May 20, 2018
I put cinnamon nutmeg cloves ginger & cardamom I'm my coffee...I love it I do keto so no sugar but I keep a jar of those 5 spices mixed together a pinch or 2 in my coffee and some heavy wiping cream in it and off I go! :)
Diana G. June 4, 2017
And Cardamom loses its strength very rapidly once ground
Diana G. June 4, 2017
Cardamom neutralizes the stimulating effects of caffeine
Cheryl May 11, 2016
I use cinnamon and ground ginger in my coffee. Just a pinch of ginger and about 1/4 t of cinnamon. Delish!
Pamela_in_Tokyo May 7, 2016
I'm American of Norwegian decent. My relatives always added cardamom to coffee!! It's an old Norwegian treat! I've always loved it.
LULULAND May 6, 2016
I add about a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to a 12 cup pot of coffee, takes away any bitter taste, is healthy, and tastes great!
melissa February 25, 2016
i just tried this for my afternoon coffee after reading this post and it was AWESOME. i love cardamom and this is a brilliant way to get my fix. i added a few shakes of ground cardamom (frowned upon, i know) to my aeropress grounds before adding water.
Caroline L. February 25, 2016
not frowned upon! :) i'm so glad you tried and loved it.
kckimchi February 25, 2016
Cold brewed iced coffee with ground cardamom pods & orange zest is really tasty. Instead of steeping with orange zest, can just add a slim orange slice/rind to cardamon iced coffee when serving. Great flavor combo!
Christopher H. February 25, 2016
I forgot to mention that the cardamom is what differentiates Thai Iced Coffee from Vietnamese iced coffee.
Christopher H. February 25, 2016
I do believe cardamom is also the main flavor added for Thai iced coffee. Added of course go the base of 'coffee with chicory', Cafe du Monde, etc.
M February 25, 2016
With pour-overs, ground is definitely the way, but I wonder if you could just put full or cracked pods into a french press with the grounds, to avoid the grinder cleaning, or having residual cardamom flavour sneak through when you don't want it. The method works beautifully for whole cinnamon sticks.
Karen W. April 26, 2016
I grind my cardamom separately in a mortar and pestle rather than using a coffee grinder.
jakestavis February 25, 2016
i love cardamom but i almost exclusively drink iced coffee. would you use the same ratio of cardamon to coffee if cold brewing?
Caroline L. February 25, 2016
that's a great question! i've not tried it, but i'd guess yes—two or so cardamom pods per serving of cold brew. let me know if you try it!