How to Make and Drink Greek Coffee

March 26, 2013
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Greek coffee

We have known for a while that coffee can be good for you and particularly Greek style coffee as that recent study on elderly Greeks showed us. So how do you make it?

Well, first of all taste is subjective and when it comes to coffee the variations are limitless. The same goes for Greek coffee, obviously you won’t add milk or syrups to it, but the ratio of sugar to coffee, the amount of coffee, the length of time it is boiled, whether it has bubbles or not, all these are factors that can affect the taste and texture of the coffee. So in this post I will show you how I make the coffee and present the numerous other ways it can be prepared.

You will need
You will need some equipment to make a proper Greek coffee.

  • A gas source. In Greece most people used to have gas stove tops, nowadays these have been replaced with electric stove tops, which I am not very fond of, as I cannot see flame. Since most people no longer have gas stove tops, here they use what you call a gazaki, it is a single camping gas burner. Traditionally this type of coffee is made in what is called hovoli, which is basically heated sand.
  • Get a small coffee pot called a briki.
  • Greek coffee, known also as Turkish or Arab coffee (see section below)
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Espresso coffee cup or Greek coffee cup like the one in the photo
*Note Greek coffee does not have any spices added to it such as cardamom.
briki

Briki on the gas burner

What Type of Coffee Should you Use?
Now many people think that if they grind their favorite coffee beans in a fine powder they will have Greek style coffee. This is not the case. I remember when I was the Food and Beverage Director for Starbucks in Greece and we were launching the first store in Greece back in 2002, we had to serve Greek coffee in the store. Apparently there is a law in Greece that requires all coffee shops to serve Greek coffee. However, Starbucks only serve their own coffee blends, so they ground their beans in a powder and made a “Greek” coffee. I can assure you that it looked like Greek coffee, but it did not taste like Greek coffee. Α specific combination of beans is used to make this Greek blend, with specific bean varieties, roasted at specific temperatures and used in specific ratios. If there is a place that grinds/roasts Greek/Turkish/Arab style coffee near you, then by all means get the coffee from there. If not, many ethnic super markets sell it and you can also order Greek coffee from Amazon, they carry the 2 popular Greek brands Loumidis and Bravo.

DIRECTIONS
1. Measure out a full coffee cup of water (about 2 1/2 -3 ounces or 75-90 mls) and pour into the briki. If you are making more than one coffee make sure your briki is big enough, you will need space to let the coffee bubble and foam.

2. Add 2 teaspoons of coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar for every 1 coffee cup and stir. This ratio is considered a somewhat strong coffee.

3. Place the briki on the gas and turn on so that it is on low heat.

4. Very slowly let the coffee heat up, (keep the flame very-very low). Do not leave the coffee unattended.

5. You will slowly see the surface start to tremble (I describe it like a volcano waiting to explode). Once it starts foaming, lift it slightly from the heat until the foam/bubbles settle and then put it on the fire again and let it start foaming and puffing up. Then remove. This step is important to get a good coffee. You don’t want to let it over-boil otherwise it will not have that creamy/foam on top, but you don’t want it under-boiled because then you may taste the grounds in the coffee.

6. Serve in the coffee cup. If you are making more then one, separate the foam in each coffee cup.

7. Serve the cup on a small saucer with a glass of cold water.

Greek coffee has a lighter color then similar style coffees.

Greek coffee has a lighter color then similar style coffees.

How to drink Greek coffee
While this is a small coffee, it is not to be confused with the espresso, which is basically consumed quickly standing up. This coffee is consumed sitting down slowly. To get the full flavor you should sip the coffee slowly. I remember the older generations taking loud sips of coffee; while this may be rude, I find that it increases the enjoyment of the coffee. Once you start tasting the first grounds you are done. Do not try and drink the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup.

In Greece, traditionally coffee was consumed two times a day: In the morning and in the afternoon after their nap. Although the coffee seems thick and black it is not extremely high in caffeine, it is actually lower then regular filter coffee.

Different Preparations of Greek Coffee
As I mentioned earlier there are different ways to enjoy coffee (some say that there are 45 different ways to prepare Greek coffee), so you may always reduce the sugar or not add any at all. The way I make it is considered somewhat moderate to strong. Here are some of the ways it can be consumed:

  • Plain pronounced Sketos: Only coffee and no sugar
  • Strong pronounced Varis: 2-3 teaspoons of coffee with 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Light pronounced Elafris: ½-1 teaspoon of coffee + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Sweet pronounced Glykos: 1 teaspoon coffee +2 teaspoons sugar
  • Strong-Sweet pronounced Variglykos: 3 teaspoons coffee +3 teaspoons sugar
  • Yes and No pronounced Ne ke Ohi: 1 teaspoon coffee + ½ teaspoon sugar
Photos by OliveTomato
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17 Responses to How to Make and Drink Greek Coffee

  1. March 29, 2013 at 5:31 am

    What a very good article you have here :). I always fancy having a cup or two of greek coffee. Not knowingly, that it drinking it is good for the health. I sure hope more studies come up for coffee’s positive benefits to arise.

  2. Elena Paravantes RD
    March 29, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Thank you Flori! Yes, I think we will be seeing more research.

  3. Christine
    June 10, 2013 at 3:54 am

    Can tell me more about the variety of beans and the roasting of the greek coffee? I roast my own coffee and would like to experiment with greek coffee. Thanks.

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      June 10, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Hi Christine,
      All the coffee producers use their own combinations of a variety of beans, it appears that they use as it is noted by large Greek coffee companies: Arabica Santos and Rio with some Robusta. However, what gives it the uniqueness is the roasting.

  4. Jon Deering
    July 2, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Hi Elena,
    I feel inspired to fire up my briki to make myself some Greek coffee! I would love to know as much as you can share about what variety of beans or what the blend was that was used by Starbuck’s in Greece. I would love to create my own blend using organic/free trade beans. Cheers!

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      July 2, 2013 at 6:44 am

      Hi Jon,
      I do not remember what blend Starbucks had used, but it didn’t taste like Greek coffee. Large Greek coffee companies use Arabica Santos and Rio with some Robusta. However, what gives it the uniqueness is the roasting.

  5. Abhay Singh
    October 12, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Thanks..nice article. I will try

  6. Jack Maze
    November 6, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Great Article! What are your favorite brands of Greek/Turkish coffee, as well as makers of brikis?

    • Leonard Kirkwood
      November 7, 2013 at 2:30 am

      Yes, do you happen to know any makers of brikis, preferably made in Greece? I’ve wanted to buy an authentic briki, but all the ones I’ve found online seem cheap and shoddy.

      • Elena Paravantes RD
        November 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

        Unfortunately, I do not, but Ι prefer a heavy one.

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      November 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Thanks Jack. I do not have a specific brand, most of the time I go to a place in mom’s hometown that grind their own coffee. Otherwise, I’ll usually grab the classic loumidis. For a briki, I prefer a heavier one that narrows on top, that helps it make a good foam.

  7. Ange Kenos
    February 6, 2014 at 4:04 am

    I love my Hellenic/ Greek coffee but diplo kai metreo please. Meaning double sized but one spoon of sugar

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      February 6, 2014 at 7:47 am

      Thanks for sharing Ange!

  8. June 12, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Good article. You can get great ibriks here: http://atlantonnet.com/category/coffee-pots

  9. Chris
    November 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Hi.
    For a good strong bodied and full of aromas cup of Greek coffee, Rio, Santos, Robusta and a little of Djimmah roasted till the 1st crack constantly at 170-180 degrees celsius. Στην υγεια μας (cheers)

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      November 21, 2014 at 7:17 am

      Thanks for sharing Chris!

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