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.
- 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.
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.
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
- Gas Source see above
- Small coffee pot called a briki.
- Espresso cup or Greek coffee cup
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the briki on the gas and turn on so that it is on low heat.
- Very slowly let the coffee heat up, (keep the flame very-very low). Do not leave the coffee unattended.
- 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.
- Serve in the coffee cup. If you are making more then one, separate the foam in each coffee cup.
- Serve the cup on a small saucer with a glass of cold water.
Hi there! I was wondering if the effects and health benefits would be the same with a bialetti moka? It seems like it might, but not sure. Thanks!
I tried the Bravo coffee using a birki and a camp stove. I got the froth perfect and the flavor is to die for, however I’m finding sources that show Greek/Turkish coffee has a much higher caffeine content than American drip coffee. I also had horrible, major headaches while drinking the Bravo. Headaches that lasted for days after 1 serving. This does not happen with Italian or Cuban espresso or drip coffee for me. Was something wrong with the coffee? Or is the caffeine content actually higher than espresso or drip blends? Love your recipes by the way. My favorite website.
Greek/Turkish coffee has less caffeine than regular filter coffee. The grounds are not consumed and you want to make sure that it is boiled enough so there are no grounds when you are drinking it. There may be a substance in the coffee that you have a sensitivity to. You can try another brand, Loumidis is the most popular coffee here in Greece. Also be aware that Greek coffee is blonder than Turkish coffee which uses a dark roasted bean, so that means it also has a milder flavor than Turkish coffee.
I’ve recently begun enjoying the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle and I want to say thank you so much for all of your delicious recipes and tips! I do have a question when it comes to the Briki’s. Is there a preference of the material it is made from? I have seen copper and stainless steel.
Both are fine. Copper is more traditional.
Hello, I’m Greek & I’ve always drank my Greek coffee with cardomon!
I just tried it for the first time ever today… HOW HAVE I LIVED MROE THAN 20YEARS AND JUST AM HAVING THIS!?!?! So many regrates but perhaps this my greatest! THERE’S NO OTHER WAY I WANT IT NOW, AHHH!!! <3 Magic and love and all that is good in this world in a cup!
I am inspired by your writings which brings back memories of Yaya and her Greek girlfriends that used to gather in the afternoon for talk and treats, and ‘Turkish’ coffee. I still have the brass brikies. Your recipe and method is the same as Yaya and Mother taught me, only they allowed foaming to happen 3 times (maybe for the trinity). As a retired senior, I will dust off the briki and bring them back to life. Love your writings.
This sounds so good! I am curious though (I always have to worry about something when I should just live my life): I’ve seen some articles that boiled, unfiltered coffee can raise cholesterol. Does this potentially have that effect or because the grounds aren’t consumed is it less likely to cause any issues with cholesterol? I know traditional Greeks are very healthy in general and face very few lifestyle related diseases so I would think either this coffee doesn’t cause cholesterol raising or because the diet is so healthy it would make up for that. Just wondering if you know more about this. I’m still going to try it either way it sounds like it would be something I would love and I’ve been using a french press anyways so I’m sure that also would be considered unfiltered coffee.
I don’t have a gas stove only electric. I follow the instructions that my friend, who is Egyptian, told me. I can never get the frothy or foamy top like in all the pictures but it tastes pretty good.
This was so so so helpful! It’ll save me so much more money making it myself rather than constantly buying it. I sadly live in America when I would love to live in Greece. So this will help me make better coffee than any other places can offer!!
Thank you Blaire! Glad it was helpful!
I’m sitting outside Als bar in Batsi, Andros. Been coming here for 20 years, loved your article on how to make proper Greek coffee, definitely going to bring a briki home with me this year. Can’t believe it’s taken me 20 years!!!
Thank you for sharing! Enjoy your stay in Andros!
when on the beach in north greece, my aunt would soak cotton balls in either alcohol or something else that i cant remember, and she’d light them up and hold the briki over the flames. when there’s a craving, there’s a way
Thank you Elena! We are new converts to Greek coffee after our first visit to Greece. I feel much better drinking coffee like this than the way I used to! We now love our daily Greek coffee! Good to read about it . I work with over 100 women every week, dancing and will be introducing our dancers to the joys of Greek coffee.
Thank you Carla!
Though we liked Greek coffee we really did not drink it because making it on the stove was hugely unsuccessful! No patience… never managed to get a good kamaki on the top. Then we discovered the Beko Turkish/Greek auto coffee maker – with North American power – this little machine make a perfect cup of coffee every single time with the push of one button. It’s become our coffee of choice since we bought the machine.
I came here for tips on Greek coffee, but the rest of the content here looks great – hitting “Subscribe.”
What is the cold cup of water for that you mention at the end.
After drinking the coffee you have a few sips of cold water.
I have just received my first order of Loumadis coffee and although I really liked it, am not sure if I made it correctly. Is 1 teaspoon, a level teaspoon or a heaped teaspoon? I used a level teaspoon with a half teaspoon of sugar, but I didn’t manage to get it to foam although I boiled it for several minutes. I did however, have the element on high … we don’t have gas. I will try again with the element on low next time.
Have the element on low, it will take a bit more time but you should get the foam. If it is on high it will come to a boil too fast resulting in no foam.
Hi ~ I loved this article. When and why do you drink the cold water?
During the coffee drinking