Sri Lankan coffee – sustainable, complex aromas and spicy

Sri Lankan coffee – sustainable, complex aromas and spicy

The tea from Ceylon is world famous – but it could have been quite different with Sri Lankan coffee!
  • The first coffee plants probably reached the island in the Indian Ocean around 1505 by Arab merchants.
  • However, the native Sinhalese used only the leaves to make their curry mixtures.
  • Dutch merchants started the first attempts of commercial coffee use in 1658, with plants that were illegally smuggled from today’s Yemen into the Amsterdam botanical garden in 1616.
  • This is probably one of the first Christian colonial coffee plantations at all.
  • But it was not until the 1825s that the British established a first plantation near the royal town of Kandy, also with Arabica plants from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, where coffee was introduced by the British around 1730.


  • The central mountainous region with its rainy slopes and high plateaus proved to be ideal for coffee cultivation.
  • Unfortunately, for the commercial cultivation, large forest areas were cleared in favor of shadowless coffee monocultures.
  • In 1867 21,000 hectares of coffee were cultivated. Sri Lanka, with Brazil and Indonesia, was one of the world’s 3 largest coffee exporters.
  • Starting in 1869, the plantations were destroyed within a few years by coffee leaf rust, a fungus disease and soil erosion.
  • The coffee rat, which eats the buds and flowers of the Sri Lankan coffee plants, also destroyed whole crops in Sri Lanka at the end of the 17th century.
  • The Scot James Taylor then came up with the idea of ​​cultivating tea, for which the country is now world-famous and ranked 4th among the tea producers.


  • In 1953 Sri Lankan coffee grew only to a total of 20 ha – in 1964 it was already 800 ha.
  • In the 90s, the Dutch began to cultivate coffee on Sri Lanka again – this time sustained, so that the tragedy does not repeat itself.
  • Arabica is grown in Kotmale at an altitude of 1,000 m and Robusta in Wattegama at an altitude of 500 m.
  • Sri Lankan coffee has a beautiful body with complex aromas of caramel, coffee cherry, cocoa and pleasant citrus notes.

Sri Lankan Coffee Preparation

The following recipes may also differ in terms of spices depending on the source. With all Sri Lankan coffee preparations, the spices are roasted and then ground together with the coffee to a powder and sieved. For 1 glass of typical Sri Lankan coffee you only need 1 teaspoon of coffee powder and brew it with 96°C hot water. Some spiced coffee powders can also be bought ready-made in Sri Lanka.

Masala Coffee Powder – மசாலா கோப்பித் தூள்
  • 50 grams of coffee beans
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp ghee
  • 18 peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cm dried ginger

But the following combinations can also be found: coriander seeds, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon or with green cardamom pods, fenugreek and ginger.

For this typical Sri Lankan coffee, the coffee beans are roasted or roasted coffee is used. Then, in a pan over low heat, toast 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 inch cinnamon, 18 peppercorns, and 5 cardamom pods. Then, when the cilantro has browned, mash up 1 inch (2.5 cm) of dry ginger and add it. When everything is well toasted, remove.

Then roast the coffee beans and the spice mixture in a pan over a low flame. After they are lightly toasted, add 1/4 tsp ghee and 1/2 tsp sugar. When the sugar has melted, remove the mixture and let it cool in the pan. Then grind to a fine powder and sieve. This can then be infused with hot water as required.

Sukku Malli Coffee – சுக்கு மல்லி காபி

Coffee with coriander seeds, dry ginger, cumin seeds (black peppercorns).

Jaffna Coffee Powder – யாழ்ப்பாண கோப்பி தூள்
  • 100 g roasted coffee beans
  • 100 g coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 3 cardamom seeds
  • 2 pieces of dry ginger
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

The ingredients are roasted together one at a time in a pan over low to medium heat. The sugar is added last so it caramelizes. The mixture is then allowed to cool and ground into a fine powder.

Sri Lankan Egg coffee – முட்டை கோபி
  • 1 tsp coffee powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg

Put coffee powder and sugar in a glass and pour in hot water at 96°C. Beat the egg in a measuring cup until fluffy. Then add a little hot coffee and continue beating until all the coffee is mixed with the egg foam. Then pour the egg coffee back and forth between the glass and the measuring cup to cool and get it foamy.

Sri Lankan Coffee – කෝපි

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