Greek Coffee – A Way Of Life.
There is nothing like Greek coffee. Known around the world as Turkish Coffee, but when you’re in Greece – it’s Greek :) (ελληνικός καφές). It’s so good. Granted, like regular coffee, it’s an acquired taste.
Today’s Greek cafés are a bit different from the old Kafeneion’s of the old. However, you can still find people sitting at tables all day slowly sipping coffee (or a frappé) and talking. The coffee places are an area of slow motion. People will sit for hours talking while the older crowds play backgammon.
It isn’t like a major chain say here in the USA where you’re in and out. You sit. Relax. Enjoy life.
Let us take a look at what Greek coffee is and how it is made.
First, Greek coffee is made using a briki (bree-kee). It is a steal pot with a long handle. They come in different sizes, 2-6 cups is normal. If you are serving more, it’s done in stages. Remember, no rushing.
I would say that a typical Greek drinks about 2 cups of coffee a day on average. These are not large cups, but rather they are served in a demitasse cup (think about ¼ cup) or espresso cup.
How is Greek Coffee made?
Now, you’re ready to make some Greek Coffee!
First, you take however many demitasse cups are needed and fill each with water. Then, you dump the water from each cup into the briki.
Second, you add 1 heaping teaspoon of Greek coffee into the briki for each demitasse cup. Now here is where is will differ greatly from Greek to Greek.
How sweet do you want it?
- Sketos (skeh-tohss): Unsweetened and therefore no sugar
- Metrios (meht-re-ohss): Medium-sweet coffee: Add 1 teaspoon of sugar per 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee. (most popular)
- Glykos (ghlee-kohss): Sweet coffee: Add 2 teaspoons of sugar per 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee.
Example: If you were serving 3 people and they wanted metrios coffee (highly recommended if it is your first time trying it!), you would add 3 heaping teaspoons of coffee and 3 regular teaspoons of sugar to the briki.
Okay, back to how it’s made.
Third, put the briki (now with coffee and sugar if desired) on a gas burner (in Greece, this is taken so seriously, that people will go out and buy a single gas burner if they don’t have one because it helps direct and control the flame) and turn it on to medium-low heat.
Fourth, after a few minutes when it starts to get warm, continuously stir the mixture until it dissolves. Once all is dissolved, stop stirring.
Fifth, continue to slowly heat and watch for the foam to rise and take it off right before it begins to boil. (This foam is called kaïmaki (καϊμάκι, pronounced kaee-MAH-kee) and the richer the foam, the better Greeks like it.
Sixth, If it’s just one cup, pour and enjoy. However, if there is more than one, pour a little into each cup, then go back to the first, and fill up each cup to the top. The reason for this is that you spread the foam to each of the cups so it will be present in each person’s coffee.
In addition, Greeks usually serve coffee with an ice-cold glass of water. Remember that one cup usually last a few hours. It is about enjoy life and the company you are with. Try having a sweet biscuit with it as well. The flavors combine nicely.
**It will be very hot. So be careful. Best to wait a bit before drinking. Additionally, it’s not like American coffee where you want to drink the whole thing. There will be coffee residue (grinds) at the bottom of each cup so watch out for that**
As a little culture tidbit as well, it is not uncommon for the older generation to playfully read ones fortune from the coffee grounds leftover from someone’s coffee. Once your coffee is finished, you would flip the cup upside down for a few seconds and let the coffee grounds fall from the cup to the plate, then a wise Greek person would read your future by removing the cup and looking at the Greek coffee grounds. At least from my experience, it’s more for fun and being with loved ones. It’s a tradition and Greeks love tradition.
Now obviously you want to try/make it for yourself. It is fun!
Interested in what the younger generations of Greeks are drinking, then go to this page to learn about the frappé!