Chai Coffee Recipe (Frothy + Delicious!)

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Chai Coffee recipe with a simple blend of Indian chai spices, strong coffee and warm, frothy milk. Try this easy recipe and find out why everyone LOVES it!

Chai coffee recipe with a spoon.

Why You’ll Love This Chai Coffee Recipe

The combination of rich coffee, earthy spices, and creamy milk is just SO good! You’ve got to try it. I can’t stop whipping up mugs of steaming chai coffee; here’s why:

  • The spiciness is customizable: I love switching up the spice level in this recipe to make a stronger or milder mix, depending on my mood.
  • Balanced sweetness: If you don’t like your drinks overly sweet, you can lower the sugar level in this recipe. That’s why DIY chai coffee is a dream – you can make it as sweet (or unsweet) as you like!
  • The ultimate cozy drink: This coffee is warming, sweet, and full of comforting spices. Curl up with a good book and a mug of this delicious chai coffee.
  • Iced or hot: Works great for both hot and cold chai coffees – a good base for chai lattes too!
  • Super simple: Nothing can be easier + it’s made with common pantry ingredients. You really don’t need to be a barrister to make this!
Pouring chai coffee in cup

Chai Latte Vs Chai Coffee: What’s the Difference?

Chai latte is a coffee shop spiced tea drink, is made with brewed chai tea concentrate or steeped black tea bags and spices mixed with steamed milk.

Chai coffee combines brewed coffee or espresso with chai spices and milk.

While chai latte highlights the traditional chai tea flavors, chai coffee blends the richness of coffee with the warmth of chai spices.

Related: Here’s my authentic Indian Chai Tea recipe.

Chai coffee ingredients

Here’s What You Need

Round up these ingredients and tools for this recipe:

Ingredients 

I love that this recipe is so flexible. Check out the ingredients you’ll need to make it:

Spices

  • Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon provides a warm, aromatic flavor to the chai coffee. Alternatively, you can use a cinnamon stick-keep in mind a stick will give you a stronger flavor than ground cinnamon will. 
  • Ginger: Ground ginger offers a spicy kick to the chai coffee. Freshly grated ginger is stronger than ground, with a more vibrant flavor.
  • Ground cloves: Whole cloves can be used for a more intense and fragrant infusion. Be cautious with the amount of cloves, as they can overpower other flavors easily.
  • Cardamom: Ground cardamom contributes a floral and slightly citrusy flavor to the chai coffee. Crushed cardamom pods release their aromatic oils, making the flavor stronger.

Coffee

  • Espresso, instant coffee, or brewed coffee at 4x strength: The choice of coffee base depends on a) what you like and b) your at home coffee making equipement. Remember – espresso is stronger than instant coffee.
  • Sugar: You can use good old white sugar or alternatives like honey or maple syrup for a different flavor profile.

Milk

  • Milk: Dairy or non-dairy both work – try cow’s milk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk (here’s my homemade coconut milk).
Adding milk in pan

Substitutions and Variations

Here are a few twists and turns to take with this chai coffee recipe:

  • Spice substitutions: If you’re missing one of the spices, you can adjust by increasing the quantity of the others. For example, if you don’t have ground cloves, add extra cinnamon or cardamom to compensate. I like to add other spices like black pepper and cayenne to mine (sometimes) for a spicy coffee!
  • Coffee base variations: For a caffeine-free option, switch regular coffee with decaffeinated coffee or chicory root coffee. Try using cold brew coffee for a smoother and less acidic flavor profile, especially if you prefer a chilled chai coffee beverage.
  • Sweetener alternatives: Instead of sugar, try stevia, agave syrup, or date syrup. 
  • Boozy chai coffee: For an adult version, spike your chai coffee with a shot of rum, whiskey, or coffee liqueur, like Kahlúa.
  • Garnish: I love garnishing with a cinnamon stick or a twist of orange peel for a little “something something.”
  • Iced chai coffee: To make an iced version, cool the mix completely, then pour it over ice cubes. Add chilled milk and sweetener to taste.

 Tools to Grab

You’ll need to grab these items:

  • Saucepan: To make the milk infusion in.
  • Sieve: To strain and filter out the spices. You can also use a cheesecloth. 
  • Mug or glass: Choose your favorite mug or a sturdy mason jar. 
Infusing milk with chai spices for chai coffee.

How to Make Chai Coffee: An Easy Guide

Here is my 4 step guide to making homemade chai coffee:

Infuse the milk

Pour the milk into a medium-sized saucepan. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. 

Heat the mixture on a medium-low setting, stirring now and then.

Slowly bring the milk to a light simmer. Next, turn the heat down.

Allow the milk and spices to infuse for about 5 minutes. Avoid boiling the milk.

Brew the coffee

While the milk is infusing, make your coffee (espresso shots, double-strong drip coffee, or instant coffee). 

Brewing coffee

Strain the milk

After the milk has been infused with the spices, strain it to remove the spices and any whole pieces.

You can use a fine mesh strainer or a piece of cheesecloth.

Combine and sweeten

Pour the brewed coffee into a large mug. Add the strained, spiced milk to the coffee. 

Sweeten the mixture with sugar according to your taste.

How to Make Frothy Milk

For a foamy, delicious chai coffee, here are some options:

  • Coffee-shop style: Swap out the saucepan for a milk steaming wand on an espresso machine or a standalone milk steamer to heat the milk and spices while frothing it at the same time.
  • Cheap tool: Grab a budget-friendly, handheld milk frother. You can find these pretty much anywhere, even dollar stores or Ikea.
  • Use a blender: Heat and strain the milk first. Pour it into the blender and blend until it’s frothy. Be careful when you open the blender, as hot liquid can create pressure inside.
  • Traditional Indian chai technique: pour your coffee from high up or between two cups. This makes it super frothy and tasty.
  • Alternative “froth”: If all else fails, ditch the froth. Just dollop some whipped cream on your coffee. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Make Ahead and Storage

Here is how to make parts of this recipe ahead:

Make Ahead

Spices

You can prepare the chai spice mixture in advance by combining the ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom in a small airtight container. Store the spice blend in a cool, dry place until ready to use.

If using fresh ginger, you can peel and grate it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Brewed coffee

If you prefer strong coffee brew as the base, you can brew a large batch at 4x strength and store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 

Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container.

Chai coffee mixture:

You can also prepare a concentrated chai coffee mixture by combining the brewed coffee or espresso with the chai spices and sweetener in a saucepan. Simmer the mixture over low heat until the flavors meld together, then allow it to cool completely before storing it in the refrigerator.

This concentrated mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Storage

Leftover chai coffee can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days in a sealed container. Before reheating, give it a good stir to redistribute the flavors.

If you’ve made a larger batch of chai coffee, you can portion it into individual servings and store them in airtight containers or mason jars for easy grab-and-go convenience.

Adding cinnamon stick

How to Serve this Chai Coffee Recipe

Enjoy it as is, or serve it in a couple of fun ways:

  • Cinnamon stick stirrer: Use cinnamon sticks as stirrers to infuse the chai coffee with additional cinnamon aroma and flavor while stirring.
  • Whipped cream topping: Top your chai coffee with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or chocolate shavings.
  • Serve with biscotti or cookies: Pair your chai coffee with a side of biscotti, cookies, or a slice of moist chocolate cake! Yes, please!
  • Pair with breakfast or dessert: Enjoy your chai coffee alongside a hearty breakfast spread or as a dessert drink.

Final Tips

These are my tips and tricks for getting a delicious chai coffee every time:

  1. Temperature control: Pay close attention to temperature control when heating the milk and brewing the coffee. Overheating the milk can lead to undesirable texture, while brewing coffee at excessively high temperatures can result in bitterness.
  2. Steeping time: Allow the chai spices to steep or simmer with the coffee for an adequate amount of time to extract their full flavor potential.
Chai coffee with cinnamon stick in cup

FAQs About This Chai Coffee Recipe

Just skimming through? Here are some highlights from this article:

Can I use a chai tea bag instead of the chai spice mixture?

Yes, you can substitute a chai tea bag for the chai spice mixture. Steep the chai tea bag in hot water to brew a concentrated chai tea, then add brewed coffee or espresso to create chai coffee.

Can I make this recipe without dairy milk?

Yes, you can make a dairy-free version using non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.

How can I make a stronger chai flavor?

To intensify the chai flavor, increase the chai spices used in the recipe or allow the spices to steep for a longer duration to extract more flavor.

Can I make chai coffee without using sugar?

Yes, you can omit the sugar or use alternative sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or stevia to sweeten the chai coffee according to your preference.

Is it necessary to strain the chai coffee mixture?

Straining the chai coffee mixture helps remove any solid particles or grounds. This results in a smoother texture. 

Can I prepare chai coffee in advance and reheat it later?

Yes, you can prepare chai coffee in advance and store it in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat the chai coffee gently on the stovetop or microwave before serving.

Can I adjust the spice levels in the recipe?

Absolutely! Feel free to adjust the quantity of spices according to your taste preferences. Start with the suggested amounts and add more or less spice as you like.

Can I make iced chai coffee with this recipe?

Yes, you can make iced chai coffee by allowing the brewed chai coffee mixture to cool completely, then pouring it over ice cubes and adding chilled milk.

Can I use decaffeinated coffee for this recipe?

Yes, you can use decaffeinated coffee as the base for chai coffee if you prefer to reduce caffeine intake. Simply follow the recipe using decaffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee or espresso.

Can I add additional flavors or toppings to the chai coffee?

Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with additional flavors, such as vanilla extract, almond extract, or flavored syrups. You can also top your chai coffee with whipped cream, cinnamon powder, or chocolate shavings for added indulgence.

More Yummy Chai Recipes:

Other Recipes From India You’ll Love:

Check out my Indian husband Adarsh’s favs and put them on your must-make list:

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Chai Coffee Recipe (Frothy, Delicious + Works with ANY Coffee!)

This chai coffee recipe is just as delicious as coffee shop versions and so easy to make.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Step Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup milk your choice, dairy or non-dairy

For Spices

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • pinch ground cloves or 2 whole cloves*
  • tsp ground cardamom or 4 cardamom pods

For Coffee

  • ¼ – ½ cup strong coffee see notes below*
  • 2 tsp sugar or to taste
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Instructions 

Infuse the Milk:

  • Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. Heat the mixture on a medium heat setting, stirring occasionally. Bring it to a slight simmer, then turn the heat down and let it infuse for about 5 minutes. Avoid boiling the milk.

Brew the Coffee:

  • While the milk is infusing, make your coffee in your coffee maker (espresso shots, double-strong drip coffee, or instant coffee).

Strain the Milk:

  • After the milk has been infused with the spices, strain it to remove the ground spices. You can use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

Combine and Sweeten:

  • Pour the brewed coffee into a large mug. Add the strained, spiced milk to the coffee. Sweeten with sugar according to your taste.

Notes

Here are your options for strong coffee:
  • 2 shots espresso (2 fluid oz or 60 mL)
  • 2-3 tsp instant coffee dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup coffee brewed at 4x strength (so use the normal amount of beans you’d typically use, but with ¼ the quantity of water)
To make frothy chai coffee:
You have a few options, from fancy to super simple:
  • Use an espresso machine’s milk steaming wand or a standalone milk steamer instead of a saucepan to heat the milk.
  • Use an inexpensive hand-held milk frother to foam it up after heating it (you can even get them at dollar stores or Ikea)
    OR you can do the authentic Indian chai method of pouring the coffee into your cup from a height (even pouring back and forth between two cups) to make it frothy and delicious.
Finally, you can skip the frothy milk and top the dang coffee with whipped cream and love your life.

Nutrition

Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 96mg | Potassium: 415mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 404IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 317mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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