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An Introduction to Greek coffee culture
If you have decided to visit Greece, then most likely you are super excited to see the extraordinary monuments, to taste some of the best food you had in your life and experience the deepest blue crystal clear waters. But what about Greek coffee? We don’t often think about it as a must-have Greek experience but it is! So, consider this an introduction to Greek coffee culture for the next time you visit the country of sunshine!
Greece, as many other European countries take the art of coffee making seriously. In fact, in Greece that goes hundreds of years back. Young Greeks still carry this tradition to this day and they often go out for a frappe or a ‘freddo espresso’.
FUN FACT: Greece is number 15 on the list of top coffee-consuming countries in the world.
Historical Background of Greek Coffee
Greek coffee has a rich and fascinating historical background that dates back several centuries. Its journey to becoming an integral part of Greek culture is intertwined with the influences of various civilizations, most notably the Ottoman Empire.
Origins of Coffee in Greece: The story of coffee in Greece begins with its introduction to the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. Coffee was brought to Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, by traders from Yemen. As the Ottoman Empire expanded, coffee quickly gained popularity among the ruling elite.
Influence of the Ottoman Empire: The Ottoman Empire exerted a significant influence on Greek culture, including the adoption of coffee as a beloved beverage. With the Ottoman presence in Greece for nearly four centuries, the tradition of coffee drinking became deeply ingrained in Greek society.
Greek Coffee and Turkish Coffee: Grk Coffee is often associated with Turkish coffee due to historical ties between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. In fact, the preparation method and utensils used for both Greek and Turkish coffee are similar. The term “Greek coffee” is commonly used to refer to the style of coffee made in Greece, although the taste and slight variations exist.
Greek Coffee as a Cultural Symbol: Greek-style coffee holds a special place in Greek culture and has become a symbol of hospitality, friendship, and tradition. It is often served as a gesture of warm welcome to guests and is an essential part of social gatherings and celebrations.
Influence on Greek Literature and Arts: Greek coffee has also left its mark on Greek literature and arts. Many famous Greek writers, poets, and artists have referenced Greek coffee in their works, highlighting its cultural significance. It has become a poetic symbol of friendship, contemplation, and reflection.
Revival of Greek Coffee Culture: There has been a renewed interest in Greek coffee and a revival of traditional coffeehouses known as “kafenia.” These establishments aim to preserve the authentic Greek coffee culture and offer a space for people to gather, socialize, and enjoy this time-honored beverage.
The historical background of Greek coffee provides a deeper understanding of its cultural importance and its role in today’s Greek society. By appreciating the roots of Greek coffee, we can embrace the traditions and rituals associated with this unique beverage.
Greek coffee culture
In Greece, going for a coffee at a café is even more common than drinking a cup at home. At the same time, there isn’t a chance that you visit someone’s home and you don’t get offered a cup of freshly made coffee.
One thing that you will definitely notice is that Greeks spend a really long time at cafes. They usually combine their coffee time to catch up with friends and family. The second thing you’ll notice is the two kinds of coffee shops available. Kafeteria and kafeneio. The first one is closer to what you are used to. You’ll find inside mostly young people, drinking coffee always accompanying it with some sort of pastry. A kafeneio is the traditional Greek coffee place, 90% you’ll find inside elderly men or retirees, and of course, you’ll hear them talk about local politics, play cards or backgammon.
Read more: All about a very Greek breakfast
How to drink Greek coffee in Greece
Greek cuisine is well-known for its use of fresh ingredients and flavorful spices. One of the most popular beverages in Greece is greek coffee. Greek coffee is made by boiling water with coarsely ground coffee beans. The mixture is then allowed to boil for a second time before being poured into a small cup.
Sugar is added to taste, and the coffee is typically served with a slice of lemon. Greek coffee is often enjoyed after a meal, and it is not uncommon for people to spend hours chatting over a cup of this aromatic beverage. Whether you’re looking to sample traditional food or simply want to relax with a cup of greek coffee, Greece is a great destination for food lovers.
There are generally speaking four different levels of sweetness you can order for your coffee:
- sketos (no sugar)
- metrios (one sugar)
- glykos (sweet, two sugars)
- variglykos (very sweet, more than two sugars)
We recommend trying a few of these options until you figure out what suits best to your palette and then you can order like a local!
We couldn’t finish this blog post that’s dedicated to the Greek coffee culture, without an honorable mention to frappe, as it is, in fact, a Greek innovation!
Back in 1960, a Greek employee of the Nestle chocolate company, invented by accident. He wanted to make a drink out of their chocolate mix but he ran out. He decided to use coffee instead and frappe was born!
The famous frappe is only a mix of coffee, milk, and ice blended and shakes fast together until they form a creamy liquid. It became very popular very fast and to this day many people order it. Especially in the summertime.
How to make Greek coffee
Coffee and Culinary Delights in Greek Culture
In the heart of Greek coffee culture lies a delightful and flavorful tradition of pairing coffee with an array of mouthwatering sweets and pastries. From the bustling kafenia (coffeehouses) to the cozy cafes on quaint streets, the Greeks have perfected the art of indulging in the perfect cup of coffee alongside delectable treats. Let’s delve into the wonderful world of coffee and culinary delights in Greek culture.
1. The Art of Pairing Coffee with Greek Sweets
Coffeehouses in Greece are not just places to sip on coffee; they are also the epicenter of communal gatherings and culinary delights. Greeks have mastered the art of pairing different coffee types with an assortment of sweets to elevate the sensory experience of coffee consumption. Whether it’s a traditional Greek coffee or a refreshing frappé, there’s a sweet companion to complement every coffee.
2. Popular Coffee Accompaniments
a) Loukoumades: These delightful bite-sized honey balls, often referred to as Greek donuts, are deep-fried to perfection and drenched in sweet syrup. Loukoumades are a favorite accompaniment to Greek coffee, adding a delightful balance of sweetness to the bold flavors of the coffee.
b) Baklava: Renowned worldwide, baklava is a heavenly pastry made of layers of thin filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup. Its rich and nutty taste perfectly complements the bitterness of Greek coffee, making it an ideal choice for a harmonious pairing.
c) Koulourakia: These delightful butter cookies are a staple in Greek households, especially during special occasions. The delicate flavors of koulourakia blend harmoniously with the aromatic notes of coffee, making it an excellent treat for coffee breaks.
3. Significance in Greek Desserts and Culinary Traditions
Coffee and desserts are deeply intertwined in Greek culture. The ritual of enjoying coffee with sweets is not just about satisfying one’s sweet tooth but also reflects the essence of Greek hospitality. When visiting a Greek home or sitting at a coffeehouse, guests are often served coffee alongside a selection of pastries as a warm gesture of welcome and friendship.
Pairing coffee with sweets also serves as a social catalyst, encouraging conversations and fostering connections among friends, family, and even strangers. The shared experience of savoring coffee and delectable treats brings people together and encourages lively discussions on various topics, ranging from the mundane to the philosophical.
4. The Perfect Culinary Experience
In Greece, the coffee and culinary pairing is more than just a gustatory indulgence; it is a cultural affair that embodies the Greek spirit of hospitality, community, and appreciation for the finer things in life. It’s a culinary experience that transcends time, bridging the gap between generations and preserving the cherished traditions of the past.
So, the next time you find yourself in Greece or at a Greek coffeehouse, make sure to embrace the delightful practice of pairing coffee with sweet delicacies. Let the symphony of flavors transport you to the heart of Greek coffee culture, where every cup of coffee is a celebration of life, friendship, and culinary delight.
A team of foodies, cooks, and travelers. Alios Tours was founded out of our passion for Greek food. We share the delicious side of Greece.