Greek coffee

The sweet smell of tradition

Greek coffee is an integral part of everyday life in Greece, whether as the energizing beverage of a boosting breakfast, or as a treat accompanied by spoon sweets and loukoumia served to welcome house guests or even as a means to explore what future holds for us!

To prepare it you will need a narrow-topped small boiling pot called briki, basically a tiny ewer, where you will boil water with grounded, roasted coffee beans. The traditional way to do it, like people used to in the past, includes the embers of a fire, or a tray filled with sand. The tray is placed on the burner and when the sand is hot, the coffee pot is placed in the sand. This procedure allows a moderate and not too quick boil of the coffee beans so as to extract their whole flavor.

greek_coffee1Greek coffee‘s key ingredient is caffeine and it also contains natural antioxidants such as polyphenols. It is ranked as a very good source of antioxidants, since a small cup of Greek coffee (50ml), contains 150 mg of beneficial to one’s organism antioxidants, protecting it from free radicals’ damage.

Greek coffee as we prepare it today with a briki, without filtering it, is a habit originating from Arabic customs, since the first who concocted such a kind of coffee seems to have been the Bedouins, nomadic tribes of the Middle East.

In the Hellenic territory, coffee started to become broadly popular in the 18th century, during the Ottoman rule, but its daily consumption as a ritual habit seems to have been introduced by the immigrants of Asia Minor, who along with the coffee introduced also a technique of fortune telling through coffee practiced by neighborhood housewives.

According to this technique, someone with a psychic gift can “read” the grounds left after drinking the coffee so as to see future. The cup is turned over into the saucer to cool, and then the patterns of the coffee grounds can be used for a method of fortune telling also known as tasseomancy.

Greek coffee’s blend contains mostly Brazilian, Mexican and Panamanian seeds and it is sweeter than the one of the Turkish coffee. Back in the old days, people used to add a little salt to boost its flavor and they wouldn’t drink the formed foam (kaimaki), instead they would blew it off. Nowadays, Greek coffee is available in all supermarkets but you can also find good quality, fresh ground coffee in one of the many coffee shops of the country.

Invigorating and fragrant, Greek coffee has strong a presence in every Greek kitchen and it is an important ally for our daily routine, because of its special flavor, its stimulating action and its high content of antioxidants.

MLGFB Tip:

How to Make Greek Coffee

Greek coffee is brewed to taste, and there are four standard types, varying by sweetness and amount of coffee. Experimenting will help you find the exact brew for you.

For unsweetened coffee: Add one heaping teaspoon of coffee to the briki. In Greek, this is called “sketos”.

For medium-sweet coffee: Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee to the briki and stir. In Greek, this is called “metrios”

For sweet coffee: Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 heaping teaspoon of coffee to the briki and stir. In Greek, this is called “glykos”

For extra-strong sweet coffee: Add 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 heaping teaspoons of coffee to the briki and stir. In Greek, this is called “vary glykos”.

  • Turn on the heat (medium low), stir the coffee until it dissolves, and don’t stir again. Heat slowly. Foam will start to rise in the briki before it boils.
  • When the foam rises to the top of the briki (it can move very quickly once it starts), remove from heat and serve.
  • Evenly divide the foam among all cups, then fill cups with the remainder of the coffee, taking care not to disturb the foam.

Photo credits: Photo 1, Header

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