While most people know about Italian and French coffees as the crème de la crème of the coffee world, these are not the only two countries that have some rich and long coffee traditions. Greece has its own coffee, and it’s actually rather awesome. What is Greek coffee? Similar to Turkish coffee, Greek coffee is made with fine coffee grounds, and uses a suspension rather than infusing the water with roasted coffee beans, which makes all the difference. Greek coffee is a rich, flavorful cup of coffee that is very creamy with a thin layer of foam on the top.
What Do You Need to Make Authentic Greek Coffee?
If you want to try making Greek coffee for yourself at home, there are a few things that you are going to need to get started. While you will need to get coffee, the type of coffee that you buy for Greek coffee is also very important as not any type of coffee will do. For the best results, you should get a 100% Arabica or Arabica-Robusta blend of coffee beans that have a medium to full roast. When grinding the coffee, you will want to grind it as finely as possible – almost like a powder.
Once you have the coffee you need, you will also need some sugar or your favorite coffee sweetener and water. To make the coffee, you will need to make Greek coffee in a briki coffee pot, or Greek coffee maker. These are traditional stovetop coffee pots with a handle, and they are available in different sizes.
The Secret to Making the Perfect Greek Coffee
How to make Greek coffee? While the recipe for Greek coffee is actually very simple, there is a secret to getting it just right. Before you can start heating the coffee in the briki coffee pot, it is important to sweeten and dissolve the coffee. Once the coffee starts boiling, it’s ready to drink. Be sure to avoid stirring the coffee after the heating process begins, since doing this will risk losing the crema, or foam on top of the coffee.
Another secret to getting this coffee just right is to make sure that all the sediments are served in the cup too. Since there is no filter used to make Greek coffee, you are relying on the fine coffee grounds to provide the unique flavor and texture to the drink.
About Greek Coffee
Greek coffee is strongly brewed, and you can easily find it everywhere in Greece. It is very similar to many of the types of coffees that are served in the bordering countries and is a key part of this country’s culture. Very often, people who travel to Greece will fall in love with the rich flavor of the coffee and want to bring it home with them.
To make traditional Greek coffee, you will need a briki, which is a specific style of coffee pot, and finely ground coffee beans. Greek coffee can be served as sweet as you like it, or if you prefer, you can skip the sugar completely. Like many different European coffee styles, it is designed to be shared with others and is typically sipped slowly while visiting friends and family.
History of Greek Coffee
Greek coffee is a very similar type of coffee to Turkish coffee. Like many other coffee types that are very much a part of the country’s culture such as Bosnian coffee, Armenian coffee, and Cypriot coffee, Greece lays claim to this coffee as a key part of the country and heritage. Since it is such a similar style of coffee to the other coffees that are traditional in this part of the world, there are many disputes surrounding the origin of the Greek coffee style. Many other areas in the Caucasus, the Balkans, Middle East, and North Africa, including Turkey, claim to be the original creators of this drink, which has been backed by the shaky political relations between these nations. For example, in 1974, relations between Turkey and Greece were put under strain when Turkey invaded Cyprus, which led to a name change from Turkish coffee to Greek coffee.
Similarities Between Greek and Turkish Coffee
Greek coffee is very similar to Turkish coffee in lots of different ways, including that it is made with fine coffee grounds, sometimes referred to as a Turkish grind. Similar to Turkish coffee, it is boiled in a pot known as an ibrik, cezve, or briki, which is characterized by a tall, narrow design. Like Turkish coffee, Greek coffee is often served in a demitasse cup and will be served with the grounds remaining in the cup, settling to the bottom as the coffee is sipped slowly.
Since Greek coffee is drank at a relaxed pace, it makes it ideal for social gatherings. It’s quite usual to see people in a Greek cafeteria conversing over Greek coffee, and it is a popular drink to serve in a Greek home to guests. Typically, a Greek coffee break can last for more than ninety minutes, which is plenty of time to let the grounds settle while chatting and catching up.
Different Greek Coffee Styles
Greek coffee is made with a very simple process. Brewing coffee in the briki produces a strong brew with a foamy top that will be shared between the cups as it’s poured out. There are three characteristics to this type of coffee that are essential to the unique taste and flavor:
- Grounds or dregs of coffee, which settle to the bottom of the cup when poured
- The strong, thick coffee liquid
- The foam, known as kaimaki, which is very rich
If you want the coffee to be sweeter, you can add the sugar before the brewing process, or add it directly to the coffee while it is brewing. Whether or not sugar is added and how much sugar is added to the coffee creates the four different Greek coffee styles, which are:
- Unsweetened or Sketos: Greek coffee made with one teaspoon of coffee and no added sugar
- Semi-Sweet or Metrios: Greek coffee made with one teaspoon of coffee and one teaspoon of sugar
- Sweet or Glykos: Greek coffee made with one teaspoon of coffee and two teaspoons of sugar
- Very Sweet or Vary Glykos: Greek coffee made with two teaspoons of coffee and three teaspoons of sugar
Making Greek Coffee
If you want to make this coffee for yourself, this is a simple Greek coffee recipe to follow.
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon of finely ground coffee
- A quarter of a cup cold water
- A briki coffee pot
- Pour the water, coffee, and sugar into the coffee pot and combine by stirring.
- Heat the mixture over a medium flame and bring it to the boil. You will see a layer of foam forming on top of the coffee. Avoid stirring the coffee again.
- Once the coffee has boiled, remove it from the heat and serve it immediately.
How Greek Coffee is Served
Typically, Greek coffee will be served with a glass of cold water, similar to traditional coffee from Czech coffee houses. Sometimes, you will be served Greek coffee with sweet treats such as cakes and cookies. Although Greek coffee is traditionally served black, the younger generation are making ‘double’ Greek coffees more popular, with milk added to taste.
Interesting Facts About Greek Coffee
Now that you know more about Greek coffee, here are some interesting facts that you might like to learn more about.
As mentioned early, Greek coffee was not always named this. Greeks would call it Turkish coffee up until the 1960s and 70s, when the political relations began to deteriorate between the two countries. In 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus, Greece changed the name of the coffee to Greek Coffee.
If you want to make Greek coffee yourself, the main thing that you are going to need is a briki, which is a Greek coffee maker with a long handle. This is a brewing process that does not require a lot of heat and needs a lot of stirring before the coffee is heated to make sure that a ring of foam is formed around the outer part of the liquid during the heating process.
Greek coffee is engrained in local traditions and culture, and you will often find locals drinking coffee to socialize, relax, catch up, debate and more.
Some research into Greek coffee has found that due to the antioxidants and polyphenols in the coffee, Greek coffee is a very healthy drink that can actually contribute to a longer life. The study was carried out on Ikaria, a Greek island where the inhabitants live to be some of the oldest people in the world.
Greek coffee tasseography is another interesting tradition to learn more about. Once the coffee has been drank, coffee readers can tell your fortune by reading the grounds left in the bottom of the cup.
If you want to try a different type of coffee that has a rich tradition and history, Greek coffee might be one that you enjoy.