How to make greek coffee

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Coffee is a way of life for people in Greece. The drink plays a major role in its society and it is an important part of the country’s culture.

Traditional coffee from Greece requires an ibrik or cezve (a special coffee pot with a long handle) as well as coffee beans that have been finely ground.

So what makes Greek coffee so great?

Read on as we take a deep dive into the world of Greek coffee, covering everything from the history of coffee in Greece, how to make greek coffee at home as well as answering some frequently asked questions.

What is Greek coffee?

Greek coffee is a strong brew made with coffee grounds that resemble a fine powder, water and sugar.

This drink has been around for centuries and it was traditionally made with heated sand or a gas stove. Nowadays, you can achieve a similar result with an ibrik on your kitchen stove.

One of the characteristics that make Greek coffee different from others is the thick layer of froth that forms at the top as soon as the coffee starts boiling. This foam is known as kaimaki.

Greek coffee is brewed to be enjoyed with family and friends and it is often used as an excuse to meet up.

How to make Greek coffee

Making Greek coffee at home is very easy as you only need a couple of ingredients.

You will need one to two teaspoons of coffee. The coffee grounds should be finely ground and resemble flour in consistency.

You will also need 1/4 cup of cold water, sugar, a demitasse cup and an ibrik.

Greek coffee can have different levels of sweetness which vary depending on the amount of sugar you add to the mixture. The four levels of sweetness are:

  • Sketos: No sugar added, black coffee
  • Metrios: Semi sweetened
  • Glykos: Moderatly sweet
  • Vary Glykos: extra strong sweet coffee

The advantage of these different versions of the drink is that it can be altered until you find the perfect ratio of coffee and sugar. You can find a traditional Greek coffee recipe below.

Greek coffee recipe

  1. Add 1/4 of cold water to the ibrik. You can also use a full demitasse cup as your standard measurement.
  2. Grind your coffee to a very fine consistency (as fine as flour) and use a heaped teaspoon of coffee. If you want to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar you can do so in this step.
  3. Place the ibrik on the stove over medium heat, add the teaspoon of coffee, water and sugar and stir to incorporate the ingredients.
  4. Once the coffee starts boiling, bubbles will begin to rise. Once the bubbles foam evenly on the top, remove the ibrik from the heat before it spills.
  5. Serve the contents into your demitasse and wait until the grounds at the bottom have settled.
  6. Drink your cup of coffee slowly. If you feel like it doesn’t taste sweet enough, you can always add more sugar.

How to serve Greek coffee

Traditional coffee in Greece is always served in demitasse cups.

A demitasse cup is a small glass cup that can only hold around 70ml of water. It is sometimes used when making small drinks such as espresso.

It is customary to add a sweet called loukoumi (which resembles Turkish delight) on the side as well as a glass of cold water.

History of Greek coffee

Greek coffee is often compared to Turkish coffee as they basically have the same method of preparation.

However, Greek’s relationship with coffee goes back to the Ottoman Empire where the first coffee shop (also known as kafeneio) opened in the year 1475. By the 18th century, this beverage had become a staple in the life of every Greek.

In the 18th century, green coffee beans were hand-roasted over an open fire before being hand-ground at local coffee shops.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that specialized shops started to appear. These shops were in charge of grinding and roasting.

By 1960, specialised coffee shops that catered to younger generations started appearing all over Greece. These businesses featured frappes on their menu as well as new popular drinks for the summer such as the “Freddo”.

The Freddo is an iced version of a cappuccino or an espresso and it is very popular in Greece.

Greek coffee has always been made to be consumed at a relaxed pace, surrounded by friends and family or before taking an afternoon nap.

Nowadays, going for a cup of coffee remains an affordable leisure activity for many people in Greece.

Greek coffee culture

Coffee makes up part of the cultural fabric in Greece, and it is a daily ritual for most people.

Greeks have a phrase, “pame gia kafe” which roughly translates to “let’s go for coffee.”

There are two types of coffee shops in Greece: kafeteria and kafeneio.

  • A kafeteria is a larger and more modern cafe (usually serving third wave coffee) that attracts a younger population.
  • A kafeneio, on the other hand, is a traditional Greek cafe that has been in business for a long time.

Greek people will sit outside for hours drinking their coffee and talking with friends, usually having more than one coffee a day.

Patience is a common word when Greeks refer to coffee as you need to sip it slowly to enjoy it properly. The coffee culture in Greece is more relaxed than in many other places.

It is also believed that Greek coffee has the ability to predict the weather. If the bubbles are right in the centre of the coffee cup, that means that the weather will be pleasant. If they are on the edge of the cup, the day will be rainy.


Is Greek coffee stronger than espresso?

Greek coffee is more concentrated than espresso. With Greek coffee, you are mixing ground coffee with water instead of using a machine to extract it, which is what you do with espresso. For his reason, you have to wait until the grounds settle before starting to drink it. This makes a cup of Greek coffee stronger than espresso.

Is Greek and Turkish coffee the same?

Yes, in terms of the preparation method, Greek coffee can be considered to be the same as Turkish coffee. Both need a very fine coffee grind (finer than espresso) which is then mixed with hot water and sugar. Greek and Turkish coffee are brewed with an ibrik over high heat before serving in a demitasse cup.

Can you put milk in Greek coffee?

Authentic Greek coffee is rarely drunk with milk, as it is not the traditional way. We suggest trying it with sugar only.

Is Greek coffee stronger than espresso?