This is the brew that Chennai wakes up to. The beverage that stokes strong emotions and never-ending arguments. Our category-wise round up of the city’s filter coffee is likely to spark another fierce debate. Nevertheless, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and bravely jump in.
It’s tough for establishments in Mylapore to compete with some of the best home-brewed coffee in the area. It sets the expectation meter soaring among regulars who are not easy to please. Mami Tiffin stall serves an invigorating tumbler of coffee but Mylai Karpagambal Mess is our pick. The restaurant sources coffee seeds, roasts, grinds and brews its own trademark coffee.
The interiors have been refreshed slightly but given the constant flow of diners you can’t linger over your tumbler of coffee. If you are not counting calories sample the restaurant’s legendary Keerai vadai and sinful Badam halwa.
Address: 20, East Mada street, Mylapore, Chennai: 600 004 (opposite Rasi silks)The Udupi cuppah - Mathsya:
Iconic Udupi restaurants have been an integral part of the Chennai filter coffee landscape with their legion of die-hard fans. New Woodlands hotel that grinds and blends its own secret recipe with chicory is a natural favourite. If you want a piping hot cup of freshly brewed filter coffee at 1 am then there’s no better place than Mathsya at Egmore. The restaurant has been sourcing its Arabica beans from a single estate in Chikmagalur for decades. No tumbler and davara here but it is authentic Udupi-style filter.
Address: No: 1 Halls road, Egmore, Chennai: 600 008
Phone: (044) 2819-1900Wake up and smell the coffee – Saravana Bhavan, RK Salai:
Chennai wakes up earlier than any other metro, if there’s one restaurant that’s geared for the city’s early birds it is Saravana Bhavan. It’s the restaurant’s proximity to Marina beach where walkers start milling about even before daybreak. Some of those walkers are joined by late night revellers in search of their ‘pick-me-up’ on a Sunday morning. The restaurant starts buzzing with activity at 5:30 am as regulars and curious onlookers line up for one of Chennai’s most refreshing tumblers of filter coffee.
Address: No: 101, Dr Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai: 600 004
Phone: (044) 2811-5977Five star brew – Southern Spice, Taj Coromandel:
This is tricky territory for five star hotels – they need to please local diners and adventurous travellers armed with local information and experiences. It’s tough to choose between two top class brews at Dakshin at Sheraton Park and Southern Spice at the Taj Coromandel. The Southern Spice coffee follows a rigorous manual and is crafted with full cream milk. It’s not just the coffee but it’s the showmanship that adds the X factor at the end of your meal. The ‘coffee pulling’ drill by their service staff almost never fails to wow international guests.
Address: No: 37, MG Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai: 600 034
Phone: (044) 6600-2827Grab and go – Madras Coffee House, Food Court at Express Avenue Mall:
It might be your shopping weary heels or that sudden urge for your caffeine fix. While the city’s malls have a plethora of ‘instant’ coffee options it’s not easy to find a cup of filter coffee that hits the spot; Madras Coffee house is a welcome exception. The chicory-free coffee here is spot on and probably the best coffee served in a disposable paper cup in Chennai.
Address: Express Avenue Mall, Whites Road, Chennai: 600 014
Phone: (044) 2846-4013