iReport: Where to grab Mumbai's best cup of 'kaapi'
An exhilarating aroma, creamy golden brown froth, a fulsome nutty flavor and a lingering, slightly sharp aftertaste -- that's how a steaming cup of Indian filter coffee comes on to your senses.
South Indian filter coffee is a milky-sweet coffee made from dark roasted beans.
If one had to choose three words to describe it, they would be: intense, sweet and rich -- three adjectives the average Indian associates with comfort and nourishment.
"Oru kaapi!" That’s how coffee enthusiasts from south India shout out for the drink. The word coffee rolling off a southerner's tongue sounds more like "kaapi."
In his story, "Vendor of Sweets," revered Indian author R.K. Narayan gives readers a crash course on how to make an honest cup of south Indian filter coffee.
On one of his visits to the United States, at a coffee counter, the author was asked, "Black or white?"
"Neither," replied Narayan. "I want it brown. That's how we make it in south India."
And in Mumbai the equivalent of south India is Matunga, also know as the Mylapore of Mumbai, for being the bastion of everything South Indian in the city.
In Matunga you can smell the sharp aroma of filter coffee in the main streets and many bylanes of this active market place.
Matunga coffee shop: Mysore Concerns
Mysore Concerns is a traditional establishment that has remained steady since 1939, blending authentic filter "kaapi" for Mumbai.
Srikant Venkatram, the proprietor of this coffee citadel in the prime area of King’s Circle has been in the business of brewing perfectly brown coffee for 33 years.
“We get the raw seeds once a month from an auction in Bangalore. From selecting the seeds to roasting and grinding, everything is done in-house and is a part of the process," says Venkatram.
The store blends fresh coffee everyday from morning to night to retain the quality and taste of the coffee.
Seeds like peaberry, plantation and robusta are blended in different proportions and roasted to a certain temperature since color is an important element in authentic South Indian coffee.
“Coffee seeds can't be under roasted or over roasted. We take a lot of care in storing the seeds as they can easily absorb moisture,” says Venkatram.
The famous filter coffee at Mysore Café comes from the Mysore Concerns shop.
The store also supplies fresh ground coffee powder to South Indian temples in the vicinity, hotels and restaurants, canteens, marriage contractors and many other stores across the city.
Well-known South Indian personalities in Mumbai who can't work without strong filter coffee, such as cartoonist R.K.Laxman and singer Hariharan as well as many other government officers, are regular clients at Mysore Concerns.
Mysore Concerns, 391, Circle House, S M Road, Matunga; +91 (0)22 2402 5339
Matunga coffee house: Mysore Café
“The best brew is at Mysore Café," says Meena Rangaraj, a religious Mumbai coffee drinker and a regular at Mysore Café.
Typically, after pouring back and forth between the davarah (a wide metal saucer with lipped walls) and tumbler (a steel glass), coffee is swirled around gently inside the davarah to cool it before drinking. And if you're sipping loudly, you're doing it right.
“It is the flavor of piping hot filter coffee served traditionally with idlis and masala dosa that attracts me to this place,” says Karan Sharma, a young college student.
In a sea of lattes and frappés the filter "kaapi" is a distinctive local drink.
Mysore Cafe, 461 Bhaudaji Road, Durlabh Nivas; +91 (0)22 2402 1230
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These photos were submitted to CNNGo as part of an iReport assignment by iReporter Rama Sreekant asking readers to play Mumbai tour guide. Interested in submitting your own stories, photos and videos? Visit our iReport page.