Spicy Sri Lankan Coffee

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

When I stayed with Manike and her family, I was surprised to find a coffee bush in their garden. Making kopi (coffee) the traditional way is incredibly labour-intensive. The ripe coffee beans are picked and left in the sun to dry for four days, then pounded in a huge mortar and pestle to remove the tough outer shells. The inner beans are then roasted in a wok over an open fire. Coriander seeds and black peppercorns are added at the end, releasing an incredible aroma, and these give the coffee its unique flavour and a bit of a kick! The beans are then pounded by hand into ground coffee. Sri Lankans drink their coffee black and strong, with lots of sugar. This recipe for Manike’s father’s kopi has been simplified, so it is more realistic to make at home, but if you want to try roasting your own beans, see the note below.


  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 30 g (1 oz/4 scoops) of freshly ground coffee
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar


In a small wok or heavy-based frying pan, dry-roast the coriander seeds and peppercorns over low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant. Cool slightly, then using a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder), pound the spices into a fine powder.

Place the spices in a large coffee plunger, with the freshly ground coffee, and pour in the boiling water. Infuse for 5 minutes, then plunge and pour into four espresso cups. Add 3 teaspoons of sugar to each, stir well and serve.