What’s cardamom coffee?

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Cardamom is a popular spice in Middle Eastern cultures used in both herbal remedies and food and beverages, including cardamom coffee. The coffee can be made by grinding equal amounts of coffee beans and cardamom seed pods and brewing them together, or by simmering broken pods in brewed coffee. The drink is often served to guests and can be customized with additional ingredients such as sugar, saffron, or cinnamon. Cardamom seeds can be easily obtained from Middle Eastern groceries and are typically dried before grinding.

Cardamom is a common spice in Middle Eastern cultures and a member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. From India to Iran, it is used both as an herbal remedy for various medical problems and as an earthy ingredient in foods and beverages. A popular concoction is cardamom coffee, which involves injecting the distinctive flavor of the spice when brewing coffee beans.

Some time-honored methods of making cardamom coffee have taken root. One involves finely grinding equal amounts of ripe coffee beans and cardamom seed pods, then brewing them together with hot water and the aid of a filter. Another method is to stuff the broken pods into the spout of a percolator, which will lightly flavor the coffee with cardamom as it’s poured into the cups. A third recipe deeply imparts the cardamom flavor to the coffee by simmering several broken pods in brewed coffee for a few hours or more.

It is unclear how long cardamom coffee has been a staple of Arab life, but through many generations the drink has taken on a variety of new accenting ingredients. Some add sugar, honey or molasses to make the drink less bitter; others add a sprig of saffron or ginger to liven up the flavor profile. Cinnamon, cloves and coriander are other common additions to cardamom coffee.

The offering of cardamom coffee is customary as a welcome drink to be shared with guests – unless it is in the morning, when tea is more often the drink of choice. That doesn’t mean cardamom won’t be an ingredient in the early hours, however. Cardamom tea is also a popular drink in many different cultures and cuisines around the world.

Acquiring the cardamom seeds needed to make cardamom coffee shouldn’t be difficult. Middle Eastern Groceries normally stock this item. It is grown extensively for export in both hemispheres – not only from India and Sri Lanka, but also in Guatemala. This also means that there will likely be some kind of cardamom plant growing in the garden.

A mortar and pestle or grinder is needed to break up the cardamom seeds needed to make this drink. Beyond that, a simple coffee pot will do. Drying the seeds for a few days is standard practice before grinding. This can give cardamom coffee a deeper flavor because the pods can be ground into a finer powder. Another variety of this plant, called black cardamom, is said to give the drink a smokier flavor.

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