Updated: Apr 30
"Coffee is always a good idea" - Anonymous
The Greek Coffee Culture
If any of you have every visited Greece you will have noticed that drinking coffee and spending time at a café is a significant part of the culture. People will meet and sit for hours with a coffee to catch up. A very common phrase used in Greece is “Pame gia kafe?”, which means “Shall we go for coffee?” but more literally means let’s meet and catch up at a café/bar, whether we actually end up drinking coffee or not. Also there are just so many coffee shops to chose from!
One thing I truly love about the coffee culture in Greece is the ritual it has become. You will be served your coffee like royalty and it will most always be accompanied by some sweet or savoury which is not your plain and simple cheese pie or cake but something the coffee shop has taken pride in making.
Another thing I love about coffee in Greece is that it comes to suit all seasons of the year and by that, I mean, coffee in Greece, all year round but especially in the summer, is served COLD! And, you will order your coffee to suit your exact needs, i.e. you get to order your coffee EXACTLY as you drink it with the sugar and milk already added for you. Isn't that great?
Lastly, a very special coffee is served in Greece and is referred to as Greek coffee (Ellinkos). This specific type of coffee is only served only hot, without milk, is quite strong and can come in a single (mono) or double (diplo) version. A solid layer of coffee rests on the bottom on the cup and is NOT meant to be drunk.
Coffee Tips and MGI Cheat Sheet
Click here for the MGI coffee guide with the different coffees you can order, their cold equivalents and the corresponding names in Greek, so you can order your coffee exactly as you drink it in Greek! Save this guide on your phone to keep in your back pocket as your cheat sheet.
So e.g. if you would like to order a cold instant coffee with one sugar and milk you will order "Frappe Μétrio me gála."
For cappuccino, no explanation for milk is required unless you want non-dairy milk.
The majority of coffees in Greece are usually served with concentrated milk (excluding cappuccino). So if you prefer fresh milk or non-dairy milk you need to specifically ask for it.
Coffees like Latte, Americano and Flat White are not very popular in Greece, so don't be surprised if the waiter just stares at you!
Popular coffee chains are scarce/non existent in Greece. The locals prefer independent small coffee shops (this applies to other things too!).
Greek coffee is called Turkish coffee in Turkey, Cyprus coffee in Cyprus so you may be familiar with this coffee.
Non-diary milk options in Greece are becoming more and more popular. I stopped taking milk in my coffee about 3 years ago and during that time I would order my coffee black as the only non-dairy option I would sometimes find was almond milk, which I am not so fond of. Today, more options are usually available with Almond, Coconut and Soya still being the most common. One non-dairy alternative that is becoming quite popular in Athens is pea milk and one those found more rarely are oat and rice milk. The Greek phrase to ask for non-dairy milk is fytikó gála which literally translates into vegetable milk.
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