The coffee you must try in Greece

Real Greeks love their coffee and they are really good at making it. As a result, every gas station, supermarket, shopping street, beach, and even ferry is equipped with coffee that is even tastier than what you can get at the most famous coffee place here in the Netherlands. But how to know which coffee to order in Greece?

Here is a list of the four most popular coffees in Greece. Good to know before, is that you can pick your preferred sweetness for every one of them. Order Skétos if you don’t want sugar. Métrios for medium sugar. And Glikós for the sweetest option.

Greek frappé
image from quatarcollections.com

Frappé

Although the name of this drink is French, meaning, a drink chilled with ice, this first coffee is invented by the Greeks. It is basically instant coffee, sugar and water, mixed together until it becomes a thick foam. This foam is poured into a glass filled with ice cubes, then, cold water and sometimes milk are added to complete this delicious Greek coffee.

Frappé is one of the Greeks’ favorite coffee and they even have machines that make the foam for you. These machines look like a little drill on a usually stylish pole, and although it took me some time to figure out how to make frappé, it is actually very easy, cheap, and tasty.

Take your Frappé anywhere

In Greece, the ingredients of this coffee are also sold in cups in supermarkets and gas stations. These instant frappé cups cost just 10 – 30 cents each, depending on the region. The cups include coffee, sugar, and a straw. All you need to add is a bit of water. Perfect to take on a road trip in Greece, since you can make this coffee anywhere!

Greek freddo espresso
image from perfectbrew.com

Freddo espresso

The most simple Greek coffee of all is Freddo espresso. The drink is nothing more than espresso, poured into a cup filled with ice cubes. That’s it.

Well, there is a little more. Once the espresso and half of the ice cubes are put together, the coffee is shaken till foam appears on top after the ice is dissolved. Because of this, it looks almost like there is a layer of foamy milk on top of the drink, but it is really just coffee. To finish the coffee more ice is added and it the drink is served with a straw.

I like to have this coffee Skétos, without sugar, to have the rich flavor of the amazing Greek coffee. But I am one of the few. It is safest to try this cold coffee with some sugar, Metrios, or even Glikos. If you make the coffee yourself, add the sweetener to the espresso before you put it with the ice cubes. This way the sugar will melt and mix in with the whole drink.

Freddo cappuccino

Freddo cappuccino

The last cold coffee of Greece is the one that is like a fluid dessert. Freddo cappuccino is not only an amazing drink, it is a way of life in the hot summers, all over Greece. This drink also starts with an espresso made with good coffee, but now, milk is added. The real greeks foam the milk in their frappé drill to get a thick cream. But if you don’t have one, you can also put the cold, low-fat milk in a cocktail shaker to create the foam.

In a tall glass half-filled with ice cubes the (optionally sweetened) espresso is added and on top of this comes the foamed milk. To make things even more delicious, cacao or cinnamon is sprinkled on top. It is the perfect drink to enjoy on a beach in summer, during a stop at a gas station, or while strolling over the agora, the market. Really, I can drink this all the time when I’m in Greece, it is just so tasty!

Vegan cappuccino

One last note for the vegans amongst us. Greece is very familiar with plant-based alternatives to milk because of the Orthodox religion. So if you prefer you’re coffee with soy- or oat milk, just ask! Most of the Greek coffee places will be happy to serve us vegans as well.

The greek coffee
image from mygreekdish.com

Greek coffee

Did you ever hear about Turkish coffee? Well, Greek coffee is basically the same thing, since the history of these two countries is so intertwined. But don’t tell the Greeks off course, nor the Turkish… Let’s move on to the coffee before I am in the middle of the discussion between these countries.

Greek coffee is made with a fine grind of coffee. You mix the coffee with water and slowly boil it in a tall and narrow pot called a Briki. This Briki is basically the same as the Turkish Cezve. When bubbles appear, the coffee is ready and you can serve it in a small cup, including the coffee grounds. These are what makes Greek coffee something that is a culture more than just a type of coffee.

When drinking Greek coffee quickly, you will end up swallowing the coffee grounds which is a very unpleasant end of this drink. But this is where Siga, Siga comes in. By slowly sipping the coffee, the grounds have time to settle before you have your last sip, making this coffee much more enjoyable. So when ordering Greek coffee, take it easy, slow down, talk with the people around you. Be Greek!

Your future in a coffee cup

When you finish the Greek coffee, there is a way to see your future! It is a Greek tradition to read your fortune in the dark brown mess that is at the bottom of your cup. When you finish your Greek coffee, you turn your cup upside-down and wait. A Kafetzou, the greek coffee-ground-reader, sees symbols in the dried-up coffee that tell her your future. The Greek idea is that a person’s mental, and physical condition affects the shapes formed in the coffee residue. Is it true? Probably not. But it is Greek, real Greek, and makes for a unique experience!

Greek fortune-telling or tasseography
image from okeanos.net.gr
What is your favorite Greek coffee? Leave a comment below!

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Going for coffee in Greece

I guess I was dating my Greek boyfriend for about a week or two when it was ten o’clock on a Saturday night and he asked me if I wanted to meet him for coffee. I was shocked. Coffee on a Saturday night? I wanted to go out for beers, wine, cocktails, maybe a coke but not coffee, did I meet the most boring Greek alive?

I replied telling him that I had some nice beers at my place and he was welcome to join me for one, or coffee if he really wanted that. Strangely, he came over and we drank my beers together, he did not mention coffee at any point that night. Strange. And from then on, every week he would invite me to have coffee with him.

Greeks go for coffee all the time

I started thinking that coffee was maybe code for a date. Maybe he did not want to call it that and instead just wanted to call it the most boring thing we could do together. But then I met his friends. My boyfriend was also going for a coffee with them, without drinking any coffee. He never drank coffee. And later his friends would tell me to come for a coffee and usually it had nothing to do with coffee, nor was it a romantic date. I slowly started to understand that going for coffee in Greece just means meeting each other.

The funny thing is that when my parents tell me they will come over for a coffee, they will literally have two cups each and leave afterward. So for me, especially in the beginning, I really did not understand that coffee in Greece just means meeting up and doing whatever. But after seeing my father-in-law in his daily life in Greece, I suddenly understood that going for coffee is a very charming part of the Greek culture.

What coffee actually means

My father-in-law lives in a small city in the north of Greece. Every afternoon he goes out for coffee. And I mean, he goes to the main square of the city and does whatever seems interesting at that point. There are days that he will meet friends and sit down for a coffee. Or beers, or lunch, or dinner, talking about the most interesting topics in the news that day.

But there are also days that he enters the new shop that opened on the main street. Just to check who the owner is. Discover what he sells, and how they can be any help to each other business-wise.

There are days that he will not even reach the square. Instead, he finds his brother in need of help in the village house. So he takes his car to drive up there and helps. Or he doesn’t even leave the building but instead spends the afternoon with the neighbor or at his office.

Greeks love their coffee. But what they love even more are their friends and families. They love meeting people, they love being outside and being aware of what is happening in the world around them. Even if Greeks do meet for coffee they love to discuss, argue and gossip with each other more than they love the coffee itself.

I have learned to love the Greek going for coffee. It taught me to meet the people I like without having to stick to a certain activity or specific drink. It’s funny how naming everything the same actually created a lot of flexibility in my life. And although my parents still get their two cups whenever we meet for coffee, I will order dinner and never limit myself again.

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