The Ottoman Empire, which once ruled over Greece and other areas of the eastern Mediterranean, is credited with being the originator of Greek coffee beans, which has a long and illustrious history.
The precise beginnings of authentic Greek coffee are unknown; nevertheless, it is widely held that the Ottoman Turks, who had a long history of consuming coffee, were the ones who brought it to the region and popularised its consumption there.
Greek coffee is a style of brewing coffee with roots in Greek culture. To create traditional Greek coffee, coarsely ground beans, cold water, and a special pot(right equipment) with a long handle called a briki.
Were Coffee Grounds Known To The Ancient Greeks?
Coffee grounds in its modern form were not drunk in ancient Greece since the coffee plant is indigenous to the tropical areas of Africa and was not brought to the Mediterranean region until the 15th century. However, the ancient Greeks had a tradition of drinking a beverage made from roasted grains, such as barley, that was similar to coffee.
This beverage, called kykeon, was consumed during the ancient Greek festival of the Eleusinian Mysteries and was believed to have been used in religious ceremonies.
It is also worth noting that the ancient Greeks had a strong tradition of drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages, herbal infusions, and teas made from plants such as mint and chamomile.
What Is Greek Coffee?
A good greek coffee (Ellinikós kafes) is similar to Turkish coffee, as both are prepared on the stove with unfiltered coffee grounds. This coffee is also called Greek mocha and is prepared in various countries, not only in Greece, for example, in Arabia, Cyprus, Armenia, and Bosnia. However, there are slight differences in preparation in each country.
Greek coffee is thick, bubbly, and made from finely ground beans or fine powder. Unlike American coffee, Greek coffee is sipped and enjoyed for many hours.
Making Greek coffee requires practice and attention to detail. The traditional preparation method involves brewing the coffee over a heat source. It requires careful timing and control of the heat.
How To Select The Authentic Coffee supplies to Prepare Greek Coffee
- Arabica beans (light roast) are ground into a thin powder for Greek coffee. The bean type, roast, and grind all contribute to the unique flavor of Greek coffee.
- Loumidis and Bravo are two of the most well-known Greek coffee brands. Sometimes in Greece, dark roasted beans are used for coffee, although normally, it’s light roasted.
- The briki is the ideal vessel to make Greek coffee. A briki is a typical metal coffee pot used specifically for the traditional preparation of this coffee. Usually, it has the shape of an egg timer or a kettle and a long handle.
- The coffee is prepared directly in the briki, heated on a gas stove. You can also heat a briki on an electric stove. However, Greek coffee is traditionally made on a gas stove or open flame.
- A small burner would suffice if you wish to prepare classic Greek coffee but need access to a gas stove.
- Serve the beverage in demitasse cups. A demitasse cup is a little cup perfect for serving espresso or coffee in just the right amount. Demitasse cup sizes range from 60 to 90 ml. Coffee in Greece is traditionally served in demitasse cups accompanied by a saucer of the same shape.
- You may get small cups in stores selling cooking supplies, but you can substitute espresso cups if you do not have any.
- Measure the water. The traditional way to measure the coffee is with a demitasse cup (or tiny cups) as a measure. Fill the demitasse with water and pour that water into the briki.
- Using the demitasse to measure helps ensure that you make just the right amount of coffee (because you are using the same cup you will serve).
- Add the coffee and the sugar. Measure out one heaping teaspoon of coffee powder per cup to be prepared. In contrast to Turkish coffee, Greek coffee is served black and sweetened with sugar rather than spices like cardamom. Add this, depending on the level of sweetness that you desire to make greek coffee:
- No sugar in a straight coffee
- ½ tsp sugar for a semi-sweet coffee
- 1 tsp sugar for a medium-sweet coffee
- 2 tsp for an extra strong sweet coffee
- Mix and heat the coffee. Swirl the coffee, sugar, and water in the briki to mix the ingredients. Set the gas to medium flame and place the briki on the heat.
- When the coffee gets hot, it will start to bubble and foam. Leave the coffee alone; otherwise, you’ll ruin the foam, an important part of Greek coffee. Foam, or crema, is an important aspect of this coffee because it adds flavor and texture to the drink.
- Keep the coffee from boiling over; this will also cause the foam to be lost. When the coffee approaches the edge of the briki, take it off the heat.
- Serve it in the demitasse. When you take the coffee off the stove, immediately pour it into a demitasse cup with the foam and coffee grounds. Be careful to keep the foam intact.
- Be sure to divide the foam evenly across cups if you’re brewing coffee for more than one person. Transfer it from one coffee cup to the other if you need to.
- Typically, the coffee is served with cold glass water. It is not necessary, but it is often served with a cookie or sweet.
- Allow the coffee grounds to settle before drinking. The coffee is traditionally served without filtering; thus, after pouring, it’s best to wait a minute or two to stir in the grounds. This allows the grounds to settle so that you can enjoy the coffee.
Greek coffee is traditionally savored over several hours. Take your time and savor each sip of the beverage by swirling it in your mouth.
Refrain from drinking the powdery grounds at the bottom of the cup. When the coffee starts to run out, you will come to the powdery coffee grounds that have settled.
What Is The Difference Between Turkish Coffee and Greek Coffee?
Turkish and Greek coffee is a traditional coffee brewing method popular in the Eastern Mediterranean. Both methods involve brewing coffee with finely ground beans, producing a strong, flavorful coffee served in small cups.
However, Turkish and Greek coffee differ in several significant ways:
- Grind size: Turkish coffee uses ground beans very finely, while Greek coffee grounds are slightly coarse.
- Brewing method: Turkish coffee is brewed by boiling the coffee and water in a pot. To make Greek coffee, on the other hand, you heat the cold water and coffee separately before putting them together.
- Sugar content: When making Turkish coffee, it’s customary to add sugar beforehand. In contrast, Greek coffee is typically served unsweetened and can be sweetened to taste after brewing.
- Served with or without foam: Turkish coffee is usually offered without foam, while Greek coffee is offered with a layer of foam.
Overall, Turkish and Greek coffees are delicious and aromatic brewing methods that are deeply ingrained in the culture and traditions of their respective regions. Both types of coffee are enjoyed for their rich, full-bodied flavours and the social aspect of sharing a cup with friends and family.
In Greece, coffee breaks, or “kafestolia,” are an important part of the culture and are often seen as a time to relax and socialise with friends and colleagues. Greek coffee breaks typically involve a cup of Greek coffee, a strong, unfiltered coffee made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in a small pot or briki, along with water and sugar to taste. Greek coffee is traditionally served in small cups and is enjoyed slowly, often while chatting with friends or colleagues.