Cardamom coffee

Cardamom coffee in a mug whose handle is modeled after a human vertebra. A layer of bubbly froth covers the top of the mug, with a warm brown smudge in the center where the coffee was poured.

Real talk: I feel a little ridiculous sharing this ‘recipe’, if it can even be called that. It’s really more like an idea than anything else, though I did check measurements instead of just dumping things in my hand like I usually do when I’m making this on a weekend morning. And there’s the barest modicum of technique involved, so with numbers + technique, this barely makes it over the hump to recipe status.

Cardamom and coffee in a pourover filter cone

So if it feels ridiculous to share this recipe… why share it? Two reasons. First, because it’s really the only thing I have quite ready in the hopper; my drafts folder is full of half-baked ideas and recipes that weren’t quite right on last go-round. And usually I would have spent some time over the weekend, but since I have a show coming up there’s not been a day this week when I’ve spent less than three hours in rehearsal. Documenting my weekend coffee before a three-hour choreography rehearsal was about the best I could do.

Whole cardamom seeds in a marble mortar, ready for le crush-crush

Reason the second: because people really want to know about it? On New Year’s Eve I posted a picture to my personal Facebook that read “Working from home, drinking a cardamom coffee out of a mug shaped like a piece of my spine (thanks, little brother): happy last day of 2015.” Four of my friends immediately sprang into action, asking all sorts of questions about how to make this magical sounding brew. (My other friends wanted to know how I got a mug modeled after one of my vertebrae; sorry to disappoint, but it’s just a generic vertebra.)  The people have spoken: the people love coffee and cardamom in equal measure!

Cardamom coffee in a vertebral mug, sitting on a wooden counter along with a jar of cardamom seeds, a French press, and a moka pot

A close-up of froth in the mug: it looks terribly inviting, almost like a bubble bath

So let me not belittle this recipe any longer because honestly: it’s superb. For one, cardamom and coffee are natural friends — Arabic coffee, for example, is often prepared with cardamom, among other spices. (In fact, that’s probably where I got the initial idea, though this is in no way an Arabic coffee recipe.) You end up with a heady dark brew, bitter fragrant coffee oils butting up against sweetly resinous, slightly mentholated cardamom. And to seal the deal, with just a brief twirling on a mini whisk you have a sweetened froth that smooths over all the rough edges. It’s a welcome respite if you’re looking at a very full calendar ahead, but equally delightful if your Saturday has nothing planned but a good book.

Cardamom coffee, a pool of milky coffee visible in the toward the lip now that a few sips are gone

Cardamom coffee

I usually drink very plain coffee, just a simple mug of the brewed stuff with a splash of half-and-half. But for this particular iteration, I like a bit of sugar — to my palate it helps bridge all the different flavors into a harmonious whole. Whether you’re having a relaxing weekend morning, catching a break from a busy week, or just looking to try something different for your morning joe, this’ll be sure to bring you a smile.


For the coffee itself
1 tsp ground cardamom per 12 oz. brew (see Note)
Your usual amount of coffee grounds for your preferred brewing method

For each 12 oz. mug
2 Tbsp half-and-half
1 tsp sugar


However you like to make your coffee, add the cardamom along with the grounds and brew normally.

To serve, combine the sugar and half-and-half in a mug and microwave on high for 15 seconds, just to warm it a bit. Using a small whisk, whisk briskly until the cream froths up lightly. You’re not trying to make a beautiful coffeehouse foam here, but rather just to get some bubbles that will pop and waft delicious smells into your nose.

Pour the brewed coffee right into the middle of the mug. Breathe deep and sip happily.


If you use anything other than an automatic drip coffeemaker, you probably have a good handle on how much coffee you’re making, but for reference: most American coffee mugs are about 12 oz. (close enough for this recipe’s purposes, anyway).

If you use an autodrip coffeemaker, you might not realize that the ‘cups’ marked on the carafe are actually 6 oz., because… well, I don’t know why, they just are. So that means that you’ll want 1 tsp of ground cardamom for every two marked cups. If you have a 12-cup coffeemaker, that’s 2 Tbsp cardamom, total.


Fellow pour-over brewers: reverse the directions. Make the milk froth, and then you can just set the cone on the mug and brew right into it. Magic.

If you keep only keep whole cardamom seeds around, like me (hi, fellow spice nerds!), you’ll want to know that somehow 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds doubles to make a teaspoon of ground cardamom. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Not feeling this whole frothy thing? Just stir some sugar and cream into the coffee. I won’t tell.

Alternative milks/creams: may or may not hold a froth depending on their fat content. But likely still delicious, so use what you want.


14 responses to “Cardamom coffee

    • You know, cinnamon always ends up tasting weird to me. I love coffee, and I love cinnamon, but when I put them together it always tastes almost sour. I can smooth it out with a lot of sugar, cafe de olla style, but since I generally don’t much care for sugary drinks that’s a rare occurrence. Any tips? (Or maybe my palate is just peculiar.)

  1. There are a few Swedish bakeries in Edinburgh that sell cardamom buns and cardamom cocoa… I cannot get enough. Now that you’ve given me this recipe for cardamom coffee, my days will basically revolve around cardamom.

    • I originally had a bit in here about Swedish fika (think like a British afternoon tea, but not necessarily afternoon, and with coffee), alongside the Swedish love of cardamom, but it got cut in editing, alas. But yes: now that you’ve got all the cardamom in the world, you can live your best life, Swedish style 🙂

    • It was a gift from my brother — he’s in a physical therapy program, and the side I kept turned away from the camera has the school’s logo on it. Amazon sells a similar mug, but it looks like this exact one, with the curving sides (which I prefer) is mostly sold as a branded promotional item. I think this one from Massage Warehouse is the version I have (available from other web retailers, too, it appears).

    • Oh, maybe you’re meaning for the whole carafe. I was thinking you were meaning per 12 oz cup. I use a pout over dripper and make one 12 oz cup at a time 🙂

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