Coffee is taken seriously in Grecian culture (although Greek coffee is actually a type of Turkish coffee). Typically, Grecians consume coffee twice a day in their culture: once in the morning and once after their afternoon nap. Greek coffee is served in a demitasse cup, and it’s to be enjoyed slowly, as coffee breaks can last up to an hour and a half.
There are variations of this little treat that you’ll need to know if you want to serve it in true Grecian fashion: sketos (unsweetened) uses one teaspoon of coffee, metrios (semi-sweetened) uses one teaspoon of coffee and one teaspoon of sugar, glykos (sweetened) uses one teaspoon of coffee and two teaspoons of sugar, and vary glykos (heavily sweetened, extra strong) uses two heaping teaspoons of coffee and three teaspoons of sugar. Below we will show you how to make Greek coffee at home.
1. Pour water into the briki.
2. Add the coffee to the water. For a version with sugar, add both the sugar and coffee to the water.
3. Place the briki on medium-low heat and stir the coffee until it dissolves. Don’t stir it again but stay nearby.
4. As the foam begins to rise, lift the briki from the heat to settle it. Place the briki back on the heat for the foam to rise again. Once the foam reaches the top of the pot, remove it from the heat.
5. If you’re making enough to share, divide the foam evenly between the cups, then fill the cups with coffee.
6. Serve and sip!
It’s customary in Greece to serve coffee with a glass of cold water.
This coffee is meant to be enjoyed slowly over an extended length of time, possibly hours. It should always be served with a glass of cold water, and sweet treats won’t be turned away. Always leave the last few sips behind that contain the coffee grounds. It’s also customary to sip loudly and even considered rude if you don’t.
A briki, also called a Turkish coffee pot, is small in stature with a long handle. It comes in three sizes of two, four, or six cups. When preparing coffee, you need to make enough according to the size of the pot, e.g., for a four-cup pot, make four cups of coffee. It’s an important factor when the foam is forming, and Grecians love their foam!
Typically, there are no measurements in a recipe for Greek coffee. The demitasse cup is used to measure the water, and a spoon is used to eyeball-measure the coffee grounds. If you grind coffee beans instead of using pre-ground coffee, grind them very finely.
Coffee houses abound in Greece. Although many coffee chains have invaded the land, local cafés aren’t suffering. There are two types of local cafés. One is called a kafeneio, which has been in existence for centuries. The oldest café in Greece is over 200 years old and is still serving locals. A kafeneio typically attracts coffee lovers over the age of 35 and is often filled with older gentlemen chatting, debating, and playing cards. The other, more modern café is called a kafeteria and is popular with the younger crowd. These cafés turn into bars at night.
Grecian coffee customs are intriguing and feature a little bit of mysticism. Part of the Greek coffee experience involves tasseography, which consists of reading coffee grounds for fortune-telling. Upon consumption, there are coffee grounds left in the cup. The cup is swirled, turned upside down to allow the grounds to slide out, and then turned right side up, leaving shapes and patterns behind. The in-depth symbology of the shapes and patterns left in the cup are interpreted to tell what lies ahead.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “pouring one out,” the Grecians do this too. Before drinking a coffee, a little is poured on the ground in honor of someone who’s passed. This tradition dates back to Ancient Greece, long before it was part of a song that made it popular in American society. Back then, it was custom to pour a little liquid out to honor Olympian gods, and the deceased were honored with wine. This particular custom is popular in countries all over the world.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Greek coffee culture and how to make your own Greek coffee at home. Remember to pour one out and sip it slowly. You’ll be glad you did.