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 drinks. A popular concoction is cardamom coffee, which involves incorporating the spice's distinctive flavor during the brewing of coffee beans.
A few established 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 stuffing broken seed pods into the spout of a coffee pot, which will lightly spice the coffee with cardamom as it's poured into cups. A third recipe deeply imbues coffee with the cardamom flavor 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 living, but through many generations the drink has taken on a variety of new accentuating ingredients. Some add sugar, honey or molasses to make the drink taste less bitter; others add a sprig of saffron or ginger to enliven the flavor profile. Cinnamon, cloves and coriander are other common additions to cardamom coffee.
The offering of cardamom coffee is customary as a welcoming drink to share with guests — unless it's morning, when tea is the most often to be the drink of choice. That does not mean cardamom will not be an ingredient in the early hours, though. Cardamom tea is also a popular drink in many different cultures and cuisines across the globe.
Acquiring the cardamom seed pods necessary for making cardamom coffee should not be difficult. Middle-Eastern groceries commonly stock this ware. It's widely grown for export in both hemispheres — not only from India and Sri Lanka, but also in Guatemala. That also means there is likely to be a species of cardamom plant that will grow in the garden.
A mortar and pestle or grinder are necessary to break the cardamom seeds needed to make this drink. Beyond that, a simple coffee maker will do. Drying out the seeds for a few days is a standard practice before grinding. This can lend the cardamom coffee a deeper flavor because the pods can be ground to a finer powder. Another variety of this plant, called black cardamom, is said to lend the drink a smokier flavor.