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Coffee in Greece

Coffee in Greece, a ritual!

Coffee in Greece, a ritual!

Coffee in Greece
Cafe in Plaka
Cafe in Plaka

Coffee culture in Greece is more a ritual! Let’s go for a coffee! Pame gia kafe! Having a coffee is an enormous part of the Greek culture. Coffee in Greece is more a ritual not just about drinking “a coffee”. Coffee breaks in Greece are serious affairs and last long! So long that some of the best ideas were born over a table with some cups of coffee. You cannot have a meeting of friends or colleagues and brainstorming without coffee.

When one person wants to ask another one out they say “Would you like to go out for a coffee with me?”. Sharing a cup of coffee can be a pastime for friends and a pretext for flirting, catching up on the day’s news or even playing chess and backgammon.

Coffee in Greek Culture

Cafe in Athens

Coffee in Greece is a vital part of the Greek culture and it is remarkable, yet not surprising, that Greek cafés are mushrooming. The international coffee chains did not make it in Greece. We prefer our own because they get our mentality about coffee! In Greece local cafés, take two forms. The first form is a kafeteria. A kafeteria is as a quite trendy and popular hangout for Greeks, gathering especially people under 35 years old. During spring and summer most of the kafeterias provide outdoor tables and also serve as bars at night. A kafeteria usually offers many types of coffees, other beverages and snacks. When you visit Athens you will see people having coffee everywhere! Just visit Acropolis or Plaka and you will understand!

How to order coffee in Greece

When ordering traditional Greek coffee, the four magic words you need to master are: sketos, if you’d like it without sugar, metrios, with a teaspoon of sugar, glykos, sweet, with 2 teaspoons of sugar or variglykos, cloyingly sweet and strong! If you don’t care to specify, the coffee is usually served moderate to sweet. Kaimaki is the bubbly foam that forms on top of the cup. Briki is the copper (or steel) pot with a long handle used to brew Greek coffee.

To order a cold espresso or cappuccino, just say freddo first and then follow it with espresso or cappuccino. While the frappe is certainly the most commonly known of the cold coffees, and certainly a Greek favourite, plenty of coffee-guzzlers prefer a freddo cappuccino or espresso. For frappes, you will need to specify if you like it with milk me gala or without milk horis gala, or if you’d like it with heavy cream me crema.

Of course you can also order filter coffee, which many times is also called “French coffee”. (ένα καφέ φίλτρου OR ένα γαλλικό καφέ).

Greek Coffee, the traditional

Greek Coffee
Greek Coffee

Coffee culture in Greece started with Greek coffee. An unfiltered coffee, with a heavy and rich taste. You must try it while in Greece, do not be afraid. You can buy a single (monos) or a double (diplos). Greek coffee is served in a little cup… so a far cry from the cool mocha colored mosaic that you see everyone else with.

The traditional Greek coffee (ellinikós kafés), is actually a version of the Turkish coffee. During the Ottoman occupation it made its way to Greece. It is a thick, strong, black coffee prepared in a special small pot called a “briki” and served with a unique foam on top and the grounds in the bottom of a small cup. The small size of the cup does not imply that the coffee is meant to be drunk as a shot. Instead it is meant to be sipped slowly, fitting perfectly with the Greek coffee culture. The grounds settled at the bottom are not for consumption.

In Greece, brewing the ideal cup of Greek coffee is an art form and the first properly made cup of Greek coffee is a sign of maturity for a girl. In Greece, when you order your cup of coffee you also define the degree of sweetness you desire.

Frappe the first cold coffee


Coffee culture in Greece has changed. Traditional Greek coffee is no longer very fashionable, especially among youngsters. A Greek invention, of instant coffee (originally made with instant Nescafe) became the new best thing. The word frappé comes from the verb frapper which means to ‘hit’ in French. However, when describing a drink, the word frappé means chilled. Frappé is a Greek legacy that was accidentally invented in 1957 at the International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki city in Greece.

It was a representative of the Nestlé company, Giannis Dritsas, was exhibiting a new chocolate beverage produced instantly by mixing it with milk and shaking it in a shaker. His employee, Dimitrios Vakondios, couldn’t find any hot water in order to have his usual instant coffee during his break. So he improvised by blending the coffee with cold water and ice cubes in a shaker. His creation, Frappé, was since then established as one of the most popular drinks in Greece. By the ’80s it was the number one coffee choice in Athens and has become a landmark of the post-war outdoor Greek coffee culture. Today it is available at virtually all Greek cafés and can be ordered with three major degrees of sweetness.

How to order Frappe

Order it exactly how you like it. With milk or not. No sugar (sketos), with little sugar (metrios), sweet (glykos).

Easy to make, Frappe is instant shaken not stirred, with sugar (if desired) and water. Add ice and the option of milk and you are all set.

Freddo Espresso only in Greece

freddo espesso
freddo espesso

In the ’90s, influenced by international trends, Greeks started drinking espresso and cappuccino.
Following the footsteps of frappé, came the espresso freddo and cappuccino freddo. So we have a new king of coffee, especially among younger Greeks. People prefer the fresh brewed coffee to the instant stuff coming from a can.

What is a Freddo Espresso?
1 shot of espresso poured hot into a metal canister. Then we mix it with an electric mixer with 1 or 2 ice cubes, with the sugar added in during mixing. The contrast in temperatures between the hot and cold is what creates that foam when mixed.

Many people that try to replicate a Freddo Espresso at home miss this part, and then wonder why their Freddo isn’t as Freddo-y as the ones they buy.

Easier to order

No sugar you order Freddo Espresso sketo

Little sugar for Freddo Espresso metrio

Freddo Espresso glyko is very sweet

Freddo Cappuccino


If you were drinking Frappe with milk 5 years ago, you may have upgraded to this guy.

What is a Freddo Cappuccino?
Freddo Espresso with a nice creamy foam layered on top.

If you don’t have a milk foamer at home you can make the froth by putting 3 ice cubes in a glass and pouring enough evaporated milk to cover the ice cubes. Using a hand mixer, froth it up until it’s really light and fluffy.

The way to order it is similar with the Freddo Espresso

If you do not want sugar Freddo Cappuccino sketo

Freddo Cappuccino metrio (medium sweet) for those who like sugar

And finally if you really like it sweet, Freddo Cappuccino glyko

Fan Facts

We drink coffee morning, noon and night

The coffee industry in Greece is a  €990 million industry! Greeks are consuming almost 66,000 tons of it in 2015.

The Nation that gave the world a taste for Cold Coffee

Cold brew may be one of 2016’s biggest trends, but cold coffee’s been around for a while. Greeks created the frappé in 1957 but they didn’t stop there. Also, they then invented the freddo cappuccino and the freddo espresso in 1993.

Greek Baristas Rule!

Greece’s population may number only 11 million, but they’ve produced 10 world champion baristas since 2005



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