Greek coffee

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Greek coffee
Greek coffee

In an age of franchised coffee shops, professional baristas, and expensive coffees with presumptuous names, we introduce you (or re-acquaint you) to Greek coffee.  Ta-da! This is not a coffee that you will drink solely to give you the caffeine fix that you need to function. This is not a coffee that you will take with you in a travel mug as you schlep to work or school.  It is a coffee which should transport you to a place where life slows down and where the very act of drinking it will be as pleasant as the drink itself.  Who knows, it may even be good for you!

Aside from the few key ingredients needed to make Greek coffee, the most important element is time. Although making the coffee will take only a few minutes, it should take you much longer than that to drink it.  Practically speaking, this is because Greek coffee is prepared by boiling the coffee grounds which then settle to the bottom of the demi-tasse cup in which the coffee is served.  Drink too quickly and these grounds may accidentally end up in your mouth (gritty and a bit gross).  More importantly however, the beauty of Greek coffee comes from the fact that a small amount of coffee can be enjoyed over a long period of time. For some of us, taking a break from our busy and hectic schedules is going to be infinitely more challenging than actually making the coffee.  But it will be worth it!

So, we invite you to prepare this coffee, share it with a friend and indulge in un-rushed company and conversation.  In need of some alone time?  No problem!  Put up your feet, daydream, write in a journal, or read.  Nothing to read you say? Well, you can read this 🙂

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Greek coffee

Helpful hints

Greek coffee can be found in most Greek or Middle Eastern grocery stores or specialty shops.  If you can’t find Greek coffee, Turkish coffee will also do, as they are quite similar.

Three is an important number.  There are 3 ways to prepare Greek coffee, depending upon the amount of sugar you use: unsweetened (sketos), somewhat sweet (metreos) and very sweet (glykos).  Even if you are someone who typically drinks their filtered coffee without sugar, we suggest that you make your first Greek coffee metreos, or somewhat sweet (as described in the recipe which follows).  You can adjust the amount of sugar you use in future according to your taste.  There are also 3 parts to Greek coffee: the grounds which settle to the bottom of your cup, the actual coffee liquid which is thick and delicious, and the top layer, or kaimaki, which is almost like a coffee foam and whose presence marks the success of your Greek coffee making skills.

Most Greek households will have a briki.   This is a special little pot with a long handle and a spout used in making Greek coffee.  Using a briki will make it much easier to achieve a proper kaimaki.  If you can find one in a Middle Eastern or Greek shop or market it is a good investment.  But don’t fret… not having a briki should not prevent you from making Greek coffee.  It will still taste delicious.

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Try not to make more than two cups of coffee at a time.  This will make it easier to ensure that each cup gets a proper kaimaki. The recipe which follows is for two cups of coffee.  It can easily be halved for a solo drinking experience.

Serve your Greek coffee with a cold glass of water.  This is helpful if you accidentally get some coffee grounds in your mouth.

How to make the perfect cup of Greek coffee

Mia Kouppa: Greek Coffee

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 demi-tasse cups of water (your water is measured using the cups you will drink from)
  • two heaping teaspoons of Greek coffee
  • two heaping teaspoons of sugar (for a metreo or somewhat sweet coffee)

Directions

  1. Pour water into your briki or small pot.
  2. Add the coffee and sugar to the water.
  3. Turn heat up to medium.
  4. Stir continuously until the coffee dissolves.  It will take a couple of minutes for the coffee to boil.  As soon as it starts to boil, remove it from the heat.  Leaving it on the heat any longer will result in the kaimaki disappearing.
  5. Pour 1/2 the coffee into one cup, and then fill your second cup of coffee completely. Return to your first, half-filled cup and fill that one with the remaining coffee. This technique will ensure that each cup ends up with a proper kaimaki. Let sit for about 3-4 minutes, to let the grounds settle, before sipping. (See video here)
  6. Enjoy.

24 thoughts on “Greek coffee

  1. What brand of Greek Coffee do you recommend? I was addicted to Greek Coffee when I lived in Athens and now years later back in the states it’s hard to come by. -Ellie

    1. Hi Ellie, we use the Greek coffee, Loumidis, papagalos brand. It is green packaging with a parrot on it. You can find it on Amazon, if they don’t sell it in a market near you. 🙂

  2. I just tried the loumidis Greek coffee today and I really like it. Though, there is some sour taste in the coffee, which isn’t something I’m used to as I usually drink dark roast coffee and this is light roast I guess. Is sour taste typical for Greek coffee? It’s not unpleasant, it’s just slightly sour after taste, really. I often drink it without sugar too.

    Also, I noticed in your video(which is great by the way) that you remove the coffee from the heat right after it starts to rice. But I’ve seen other recipes recommend that it should be put back to heat for short time until the coffee starts to make cream or rice and then is removed quickly without the coffee overflowing. This is repeated three times. I guess with this method you would get a better extraction(stronger coffee) and more crema in your cup.

    1. Hi Jenny! Thank you for your comment! We never really noticed the sour taste in our Greek coffee.. We do however, add sugar to it. Perhaps this makes a difference. When we drink drip coffee, (or english coffee) as we call it, we never add sugar. But we feel the sugar is needed with the Greek coffee.. With regards to the technique, we’ve never heard of that! It sounds interesting! We were taught to remove the coffee from the heat, as soon as we see it rising, giving the coffee an excellent kaimaki. We suggest you play around with the techniques, and perhaps add some sugar, and we hope you find your excellent cup of Greek coffee 🙂

  3. Hey, Helen (or Billie) I think I know why you never heard of the three times heating method. After some research it seems this approach for making coffee is more typical for turkish style coffee and not for Greek coffee. It has something to do with better extraction of the oils in the coffee bean I think. It’s actually my mother who told me and suggested the 2 or 3 times heating of the coffee without letting the coffee foam to overflow or boil (to make more crema or kaimaki). Probably some of the recipes I’ve seen were mostly for Turkish coffee, oops.

    Anyway, I really enjoy Greek coffee and culture as my grand parents were of Greek origin and this makes me half Greek I guess ;-). I will definitely try a few different methods when making my Greek coffee and may also add some sugar next time.

    Have a wonderful weekend ahead!

  4. A little update from me: I tried the loumidis coffee with some sugar added and it tastes more like a coffee I would fully enjoy now. Maybe the slight sour sensation was because I was used to dark roasted coffee(like Italian style), which is the large portion of the coffee offered on the market where I live.

    And since Greek coffee(at least this brand) is of the less roasted grades, my taste buds were kind of shocked at first I guess ;-). But I really like it the more I drink it especially with sugar, I guess that’s why Greek people make it with a few tsp of sugar in the first place.

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