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Greek Coffee tradition – A pleasure for body, mind and soul

More Than The Coffee

So, let´s escape for a while and have a coffee at the Greek Art Cafés.

COFFEE TIME IN GREECE: Coffee drinking is a daily pleasure, a habit that most people love to practice every day. “Let’s go out for a coffee” is what you’ll hear the Greeks say to friends, relatives, or colleagues after work. Having a coffee is a big thing. Because Greek coffee is a tradition and they believe coffee pleasure is a benefit for body, mind, and soul.

Greek coffee
Greek coffee served wth a sweet

Traditional Greece coffee

Hot or Iced coffee depends on the season and your preference. Traditional coffee is prepared in small pot, served hot in thick-walled cup, next to a glass of cold water. The Greek coffee brewed in a pot placed on charcoal ash covered by sand to keep it hot. Absolutely most flavourful and definitely worth a try. In the afternoon or evening hours a sweet treat will accompany your coffee very nicely. Ask for a spoon sweet or an ypovrychio, a tasty gum-like paste, placed in a glass of cold water.

This woman prefer a greek ice coffee in the sun
This woman prefer a greek ice coffee in the sun

Greek iced coffee

The iced coffee that Greeks enjoy any time of the year is the so-called frappé, which -despite its name- is not French. It’s a frothy iced coffee prepared with cold water in a shaker (sugar & milk added to taste – if any) and served with ice cubes. Other popular types include the freddo espresso and the freddo cappuccino, made with espresso coffee blended with ice, and served in a tall glass. Don’t let their Italian names fool you, they are Greek recipes!

If you want to enjoy it the traditional Greek way, you must take your time with it. The Greeks like to sip it and savour the aroma while socialising; the longer it takes for them to drink it, the more they enjoy it!

Guests at an old cafe in Greece
Guests at an old cafe in Greece

Café for Chess lovers

There are impressive traditional café-restaurants across the country, and it’s worth discovering them and their history. In Athens, follow us on a visit to the café Oraia Ellas (est. 1839), in Monastiraki. The eye-catching exhibits, the pictures on the walls, the traditional tables are all part of the old times atmosphere of this place.

For the chess lovers, there’s Café Panellinion (Exarchia, Athens), with freshly brewed coffee and other titbits. There are chess boards and dedicated players who take part in games and tournaments, while the famous chess masters of old times watch them from their picture frames on the walls.

Oldest Coffee House

Capital Mytilene on the Aegean Island of Lesvos, Kafeneion O Ermis is one of the oldest existing coffee houses in Greece. Much of the original décor has remained almost intact and visitors will be impressed by the marble-topped tables, the velvet curtains and large mirrors, the gold-framed paintings, and the traditional wooden sofas. The local seafood dishes are a must-try.

The oldest coffe house: Ermis on Lesvos
The oldest coffee house in Greece: Ermis on Lesvos

Art, Music, Food

Café Kipos (est. 1870) is located in the Municipal Garden of Chania town, Crete. Once the haunt for princes, politicians and personalities of the arts & letters. Now this legendary café hosts art, music & theatrical events, food festivals, and a photography exhibition about the history of Crete.

The Greek historical cafés combine flavour with culture & history. Explore them and enjoy the experience! They often follow interesting architectural styles – from neo baroque, to art nouveau, to art deco and modernism. Moreover, also preserving and promoting literary, musical, artistic and often controversial political traditions.

Famous Artists

Another historic café, Kafeneion “O Ermis”, member of Historic Cafés Route, inspired artist Thanasis Zisis, to create the unique painting “Hosting”. The set of this painting in Mytilene where Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo have been invited, as well as Klimt, Modigliani, Munch and Gauguin.

Many objects in the space are from famous paintings, such as Van Gogh’s chair, Cézanne’s flowerpot and Kahlo’s fruit!
“O Ermis” is a café “museum”, that has been operating since 1800 and reflect history of the country.
The current owner Eirini Spanoudakis continue a four generation tradition of her family in Mitilini, Lesbos.

Artistic Café

As Thanasis Zisis writes on his Facebook profile:

“In gloomy times, such as the one we are currently living in, art in general and of course painting is a method of psychotherapy and a way out of the mundane and suffocating everyday life”
So, let’s escape for a while and have a coffee at the Artistic Café in Greece!

The Greek island of Lesvos
The Greek island of Lesvos

 Frequently asked Questions about Greek coffee

 Q: What is Greek coffee?
A: It is made from Arabica coffee beans, which are ground to a fine powder.

 Q: How to order Greek coffee
A: The simplest phrase to order is really easy. Just say; A coffee, please. The problem is which coffee to order.

Q: How to drink Greek coffee?
A: You should sip it, not shoot it. The coffee will have some sand grounds at the bottom.

Q: What is special about Greek coffee?
A: It is boiled, rather than brewed. Greek coffee has a distinctive rich and cream flavour.

Q: How much caffeine in Greek coffee?
A: Low in Caffeine, high in Antioxidants. Since coffee is a fine grind and prepared by boiling, it contains less caffeine than most other blends.

Q: The feeling when running out of coffee?
A: Depresso!


Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


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