After about a month of drinking Cardamom Coffee and REALLY REALLY digging it at home I wanted to get my hands on some when I was in the wild. I can't believe I've been drinking coffee regularly for nearly two decades and never knew about this stuff. There's even an eHow about it!
What bland puritan Joe we have here in the US. According to these guys: "Arab coffee is heavily flavored with cardamom—sometimes to the point of having more cardamom than coffee. Some preparations use two teaspoons of cardamom seeds for each small cup of the sweet, fragrant coffee."
Two teaspoons may be excessive. My new jar of ground cardamom from McCormick's is far more potent than my last jar of a different brand. I find that 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon is plenty. I have also found that I prefer a little sugar, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, in my Cardamom Coffee while I omit sugar normally.
There is a fascinating article in Saudi Aramco World about Cardamom, Cardamom Coffee, and Cardamom production in Guatemala, which ranks first on global out output of the world's third most expensive spice. They quote Milad Saad, a cardamom exporter:
"Saudi Arabia consumes the bulk of the cardamom in the world, and demand is especially high one month before Ramadan," he adds. This is because, during the holy month, making cardamom coffee is a daily task in every family, in preparation for the breaking of the fast.
Back to my mission; it began by asking questions at Starbucks. A friendly barista informed me that they use a Chai Liquid Tea mix for their Chai Lattes, which are mixed with steamed milk, but they have bag of Chai tea that is brewed with water (and is far less popular).
She informed that I would need to order a "drip coffee with an add a bag of Chai tea." In order get what I was looking for, it would be best if I spoke their language. It worked.
Although Chai has more than just cardamom (most commonly cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, and cloves) - the Tazo brand Chai Tea bag highlights the cardamom and it comes really close to what I make at home. It is especially tasty on a cold morning during the holiday season.
Your cost for a taste of the Middle East? An extra 40 cents.