Ayurvedic coffee and chai

This post is dedicated to someone due to their curiosity of how to make the perfect cup of coffee and also make it ayurvedically.

I would advise people to make it several ways to define and create discernment to learn from. In doing this you learn the why and the how of what is ayurveda. In this you see how it tastes but more so you see how it feels in your system and have more discernment grow as to what is ayurveda and how it works.

The idea behind a chai is that the milk and sugar balance the drink making it more digestible as well as more pleasing to the system. You would never pour cold milk or cream into a chai so why would you do the same to a cup of coffee. Adding cold to hot creates a subtle (but not really subtle) dysfunction that has an obvious impact on the system when brought to awareness.

The spices in a masala chai (notice here that normal chai does not include spices) help the digestion of the drink as well as they would change due to the seasonal doshic impact. Also, in blending spices, we need to understand the qualities and actions of those spices. In example of this, ginger and cardamom are never used together in a chai due to their potency or virya. one is hot and the other is cold. These are opposites and will create problems in the further processes of digestion and assimilation. In a cup of coffee, Cardamom can be used to reduce the acid in coffee, while neutralizing the effects of caffeine. So you see, most of what is ayurveda lies no where near what your tongue desires and rests all in the knowledge of what is. In this, the final result is something that pleases the taste buds and desires but at the same time is healthy for the system and does not create dysfunction that further creates disease.

As much as has been touted by Western research about coffee being bad in the past, has now been flipped once again much like everything else. Confusion is the outcome. Coffee is now considered healthy and has been found to be good for Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, and liver cancer. It also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. This is all Western research though, which is very limited view and also why it changes with the tide. Bottom line, coffee remains acidic. This goes against the Western research into alkaline systems and disease. All of it, as you can see is stating facts that oppose each other as we do not have any foundational knowledge to come from that links all of our paradigm together. The acidic nature of coffee aggravates the intestinal mucosal tissue and will cause inflammation and stops assimilation when the intake is in to great of quantity or the quality is too strong. This is part and parcel of why cream or milk and sugar is used to balance.


Another note here is that a 32 ounce coffee or chai is never going to be healthy. A little is medicinal, excess is just excessive and will create imbalance. In this you can see the plight of the mind and desires over proper functioning intelligence. this is known as pragnaparadha or crimes against wisdom in Ayurveda. It is the main casualty of all disease. In India, a chai or coffee is served in a very small shot glass type proportion. It stimulates digestion. In a large proportion it will slow the digestion.

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Here is the recipe:

1. Heat your water. The temperature of the water for a coffee has the utmost importance. too hot and it burns the oil in the bean. Too cold and it doesn’t brew properly. This recipe is for the French Press due to its excellence in producing a balanced coffee. Water for French press coffee should be heated to 195°F to 200°F, not boiling (212°F at sea level and elevation does contribute to the proper brewing). If you use a stovetop kettle, take it off just before it reaches a boil and then use a thermometer to check and see when it cools to the right temperature. A lot of newer electric kettles, though, have a setting for this temperature.

2. Measure out 1/2 cup coffee beans.

3. Grind the coffee beans on the coarsest setting in a burr grinder or a short sharp pulses in a blade grinder to make thicker evenly-sized grains of ground coffee.

4. Two tablespoons of grounds for a cup of coffee is a general rule. This is where a person’s preference comes in. A little more for a stronger cup, a little less for a weaker cup. All of this is within using knowledge to not go out of the bounds of what remains balance though or in other words don’t let your preferences go beyond proper knowledge. Put the ground coffee into your French press, then pour the proper amount of hot water for how much is being made. It is better to make a full French press of coffee rather than to make a small amount in a large press. Then stir gently for the full 4 minutes using an up and down motion.

5. Steep and stir this for 4 minutes exactly. Any more and it it bitter and any less it does not brew the grounds enough. If you are using a timer, when the it goes off, immediately press the coffee, and pour it into a carafe. Press it slow as it builds pressure as you press and if you do it too fast, grounds can get around the filter screen and stay in the coffee making it bitter. It can be wise to use a strainer to pour the coffee thru to catch the fine grounds that may have slipped through.

6. Pour the coffee into a small pot. this is where you would add the cream or milk as well as the sugar and any spices that you might use such as cardamon. Cardamon is interesting. If you cook it, you cook away all the potency, it evaporates. Same with cinnamon. This makes a really nice smell but the actually potency is lost. Bring the mixture to the point just before it boils or right before it flash boils as it is called.

7. Pour into a cup and drink immediately. Enjoy.


A really good experiment to try here is to make a regular cup of coffee as well and test it against this. You can also just put the cold cream or milk as well as the sugar into the hot cup of coffee and try this in comparison to this other one you just made. This is where you learn by experience, the best way to create proper knowledge and discernment. In doing this you will be able to feel the difference of how heavy and displeasing to the system a cup of coffee is when you just pour cold into the hot and mix.


By heating the sugar and milk or cream it becomes lighter as well as the entire drink becomes more digestible and pleasing.


Ayurveda is based in subtleties in the details of how things work. Discernment is the key to understanding and creating the functioning of a healthy mind.




21 thoughts on “Ayurvedic coffee and chai

  1. Yes. I used to notice a certain dullness that happened when I mixed cold milk with coffee and switched over then had to severely moderate it due to the acidity. Discernment is key, but how do you suggest distinguishing between fantasy versus proper knowledge on some of the more subtle actions without a proper guide?

    • Frank, Thanks for your comment and your fantastic question. Yes, mixing cold milk with hot coffee will have that effect as well as feel what it does to the digestive system. It does not make it happy, that is for sure. It is a funny thought as to coffee and where the the common term “gut rot” came from.

      Having a proper guide, where to get one, how do we know the validity of what is being stated or taught?
      I can only state from my own experience with this one and we could also pull quotes from texts as to using proper discrimination.

      In my experience with all of the vedic wisdom… what is translated and written into books for the masses tends to be written for the masses that really have very little desire and time to go deep into anything. It is not their path. Can imagine your average Joe picking up a sanskrit text and trying to understand it much less taking the time to read it or even find out what is an original text? Nope, they pick up yoga journal and this is their source or go on the internet and find mindbodygreen or the other sites that push information without knowledge. So my answer is not to ever read any of those sources or at least don’t take any of them as having valid information. It has to be watered down for the uneducated mind to be able to comprehend without having the foundational knowledge.

      For the person who really wants true knowledge and is really committed to the time it takes to understand and assimilate this knowledge, only go to the authentic texts of where the source of the information comes from. This also presents a problem due to the lack of proper translations and lack of understanding cultural context. It also presents the main problem of needing a proper guru to unfold the hidden knowledge that is held within them.

      So we are talking about separate universes here in comprehension of what is and how it leads to authentic discernment verses flight of fancy.

      Contrary to popular Western spiritual thought, there is always a need for the proper guide or else one will always be left in a world of only ego and delusion. This brings me to another aspect of this predicament. My experience of the Western world is a culture that is completely ungrounded and is hell bent on their desires and disguising them in whatever makes them look in the path of spirituality. Any thought of hierarchy to anything or templates to follow is threatening to what is believed to be freedom and hence spiritual. (I have my own thoughts as to why this is culturally) Nothing i have ever studied or experienced of the vedic wisdoms are alive within this realm. Infact, it kills all knowledge that leads to viveka or that discernment that we are talking about. With this, ungroundedness, the mind is in control. In stillness direct knowing lives and proper intelligence functions. The senses and subtle world come alive just from stopping the over flow of sensory stimulation that we exist in here in the Western world. That is the first step. Hence, the importance of meditation. Without getting out of the over thinking mind, that subtle world does not exist.
      That is the short answer. 🙂

  2. Yes the short one. I just mentioned it since I see all the new nutritional advice people starting to say ” listen to your body”, which sounds a lot like “listen to your inner guru”, and I know it’s not that simple and this article might sound that way to someone.

    Still curious on more of the details of virya. I mean some of these intense Ayurvedic formulas have a range of potencies, even something as simple as triphala. Or what of putting some ginger in milk? Surely this is in a different category due to the different intensities/quantities of the two substances not to mention how cooking might meld the qualities. Maybe you could deconstruct some of these crazy recipes on Joyful Belly or something…

    • Frank, Thanks once again. A post covering this would be nice rather in the comments section. I have no intention of writing anything for Joyful Belly, sorry.

  3. Not writing for them, just deconstructing a recipe they have here as you like to call attention to what is going on out there, or another post on the topic if you get a chance. Thanks for the contact.

    • I am pretty busy getting ready for the sojourn back to India. maybe on off time when i am back there. I am awful tired of being a wave breaker though. You can imagine what it is like when the practitioners out there that have spent way too much money to get the certificate they have and the identification they have to what they call themselves and what they learned as well as who their teacher is and or where they went… what do you think they are open ears to hearing what they were taught is actually not ayurveda and there is more? Hardly my experience. Arguments, name calling, “well that is just your interpretation”… etc etc abounds. Anything but letting go of the spiritual reins of “mine” and letting into the possibilities they might not know something.
      I have gotten pretty tired of it personally. I don’t see any use of ayurveda in the west.. the practitioners, the people and the culture, lack of real education, lack of support of the culture, western medicine, other schools, big pharma … etc etc. Not to sound like a downer but I think that is the reality of it. I am happy enough to just write this blog and reach the few people it does that actually wanna learn and see what is really going on out there.

    • Frank, i would use an example the popularity of ghee. Now everyone has a blog with instructions on how to make ghee……. from a stick of butter. You know and i know it isn’t real ghee, doesn’t have the qualities, the texture or even the taste of real ghee but yet……. videos all over youtube of random people teaching how to make ghee, from butter.

      Am i gonna change it? When the so called Ayurvedic practitioners out there are teaching everyone that a stick of butter melted down is ghee????? really?

      Sometimes i almost just shut down this blog due to the amount of ignorance and some of the emails i get because of it. They don’t care, really. It is just superficial stuff out there today. Real knowledge takes time and commitment, hardly anyone has that. too busy with and in the mundane.

  4. Brad, there are enough people with a true thirst for learning that it is worth the effort. Just don’t have expectations about the results. You can only do what you can do, and you have to divorce yourself from a desired outcome. If you act with the purest intentions of putting good into the world, regardless of how others take it, you have performed with truth, honor, and integrity. If you are in any way invested in how others handle it, your ego muddies your response and you get angry and disappointed. Ahimsa — no harm — to yourself. Do the right thing and share your precious nuggets, and don’t set yourself up for angst by expecting anything from others. Believe me, it is so difficult not to care what people do with the good you offer them, but you have to let that go and love them anyway. You have a lot to offer, so focus on that. No judgment, assumptions, expectations. Namaste.

    • James,

      Truly appreciate the words. Thanks for them and the time to write them.

      There is more to it than just that though. It is not exactly easy to see. The experience and knowledge of over twenty five years in working with people one on one as well as a view out of the context of the western culture gives me an very interesting juxtapose on all of this to see the context of where I come from.

      I would ask is it not himsa to put information out there to innocent mind that are no doubtedly just like children wanting to share something that has inspired or contributed to their lives when it is so superficial it really does more harm to people than good due to the lack of knowledge of the depth and detail that makes these sciences what they are? Does it not destroy the knowledge and create more ignorance? I would equate this to Bikram and how the West views what they think yoga is. I have had this conversation many times already though and always come to the same end game. it is violence. It is not dharmic. This is the little nuggets and a path of good intention paved to hell.

      Then on the other side I also know that all of this is karma. Knowing this also, i see that creating or manifestion or sharing, which is a really hip and popular thing today, is actually just creating more karma. Desire is the basis of rebirth. This goes completely against spirituality.

      There is so much more of this that i can write.

      How does one teach silence and stillness? It is against the Western cultures grain?

      To not care how what you are putting out there is being handled is also a very egoic stance that I cannot be in due to my very make up. Is it not wisdom to have the foresight of what one is saying and the repercussions of what it creates? There is responsibility in what one says and how it travels. It is the very basis of manifestation and what the entire language of sanskrit is based upon.

      So these are some little things that are in my view. There is a whole lot more. I could go on and on.

      This is why from time to time i close this blog. An ongoing question……. to me there is way more depth in all of this. A great conversation though. Thank you for your comment again.

  5. Here’s a comment from someone whose curiosity inspired this post (i hope so ;)) I bought a french press and a coffee-grinder and beans, thanks God I already had an electric kettle with temperature setting. So fully equipped i started this solemn performance… well, it wasn’t as difficult as it seemed at first when i saw that amount of letters on the post … and amazingly, the result was worth all my efforts and expenses. Thank you. I really appreciate your kindness and your knowledge.

    • Marina, Thanks for the comment. Glad it worked well. What is interesting is to make it both by bringing it all back to a flash boil after mixing the cold milk and sugar and then also make another by not cooking it afterward then compare the difference. This is how we learn, the experience of what is based in knowledge.
      Good luck and thanks
      and yes, you were the one that inspired it.

  6. About the spices, cinnamon and cardamom, you say cooking the powder will make them lose their potency, but what about cooking whole cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla bean, star anise etc, in say, oat meal?

    • Take water, boil. Add sugar. Add tea powder, can’t be good black tea. Best is orange pekoe. Give it a minute to boil. Add milk and let it come to a flash boil. Turn down the heat and let it cook for a minute. Strain, drink, enjoy. Remember a chai is served in the quantity of a shot glass. Think of the british small tea china cups…. even smaller amount. That amount will put off digestion for about an hour. More, obviously longer. The balance of sugar to tea and milk, I cannot teach on a typed comment. and amounts won’t do either as milk is going to change as to the cows it comes from and the time of year. Nothing is standard, the wisdom needs to be learned from a teacher.

    • It actually is less about your body and more about the balance of the chai itself. Certainly is not based upon what someone likes or think tastes good. A balance of the gunas is what it is. A balanced chai will digest well. Example is that if someone likes more milk in the chia, it becomes heavy and harder to digest. It no longer stimulates agni but rather is heavy for it. To much sugar will do the same. Also, to much quantity does the same. Can also create stuff like hyper acidity in the wrong season and with the right person. Just saying, so you get more of a perspective and direction and things to watch for.
      Good luck and enjoy.

  7. Shouldn’t coffee and tea be avoided in the western world as it grows thousands of miles away, not to mention pesticides? I was interested in your opinion Brad as you usually cover lot of ground here in this blog, and i haven’t seen much mention anywhere on the internet otherwise. Weird with all that “eat what is grown near you” thing. Thanks in advance if you find a bit of time.


    • Very correct you are. In Ayurveda you only eat local to the environment you live in.
      We can see that this is hardly doable in the modern world. Right? Infact most everything in all the ancient wisdoms is not attainable in the modern world for so many reasons.
      Yes, the only answer would be to live on your own land and grow your own food. Even then many staples would be coming from elsewhere. Rice for example, if you live in Idaho, what are you going to be eating?
      So we can take this to many depths.
      Me, living in India, tea is here. 😉
      Luckily milk as well.

      Thanks for the sharp mind and good question.

    • Thanks for quick and thoughtfull answer.

      Yes, I agree on the food part. Not every country has proper diversity for mantaining health just from the things that grow, for example we have proper food in Europe but almost none spices if one doesn’t live in Mediterranean basin.
      But with coffee and tea I was thinking they are toys and less essential than food, and maybe it would be better if we grow mint, chamomile or something else to drink in pots, this everybody can do. They are not necessery piece of puzzle to one diet, right?

    • Actually every desha has its food that grows there that can be used to balance such as coconuts in dry desert. Those places that do not sustain food, i.e. life, by logic one can easily see that living there is not wise. We do very stupid things by use of our human brains….. like Dubai.

      Everything that goes into the system, not necessarily even matter but through the senses, affects the system and has to go through a process of digestion a excretion.
      Tea is no different. It has gunas. It will affect.
      I like that, “toys.”

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