Greek Coffee is More Than Just a Beverage

Greek Coffee is the most popular drink in Greece.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ It’s a ritual of daily life, consumed at home, at work, and in coffee houses that thrive in even the smallest Greek village.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Sharing a cup of coffee is a sign of friendship as well as an excuse to catch up on the day’s events, flirt a little, or perhaps, play a game of chess.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Greek coffee has a long, interesting, and varied history, and it’s been a vital part of that country’s culture for hundreds of years.

What is Greek Coffee?
Greek Coffee is a very fine ground coffee, similar in consistency (but not taste) to American instant coffee. It is prepared in a special coffeepot called a bricki.�¯�¿�½ Greek coffee is generally considered very strong by American standards and it is boiled three times to achieve this strength.�¯�¿�½ Sugar, if desired, is added to the grounds before the coffee is brewed. In Greece, you order the degree of sweetness desired when you order your cup of coffee.�¯�¿�½ A special vocabulary exists just to order coffee. There are 46 different degrees of sweetness. Below are the most common ones:�¯�¿�½

  • Pikro – Bitter
  • Sketos – Without SugarÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½
  • Metrio – Medium, with about 1 tsp. SugarÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½
  • Glyko – Sweet, with about 2tsp. Sugar
  • Variglyko – Very Sweet

Greek Coffee History
What is known today as Greek coffee (and Turkish coffee) has its roots in the hills of Ethiopia.�¯�¿�½ Arab traders found it there in the 15th century and brought it back to the mid-east countries.�¯�¿�½ By the 16th century, it had made its way to Western Europe. The Turks were introduced to coffee around 1550 and through the Ottoman occupation, this beverage made its way to Greece shortly thereafter.

In Greece, brewing the perfect cup of coffee is an art form, much like pouring tea is in Japan.�¯�¿�½ It is a sign of maturity when a young Greek girl learns to make her first proper cup of coffee.�¯�¿�½ There are many subtleties and nuances to Greek coffee making and the best hostesses can deftly create a cup with a frothy foam floating on top.

The Greeks, who love oracles, have historically told fortunes from the coffee grounds left in the cup.�¯�¿�½ To do this, turn the empty cup over quickly in the saucer and wait one minute.�¯�¿�½ Remove the cup and look at the pattern left by the grounds.�¯�¿�½ For instance, if the grounds are separated by a wide space, it predicts a long voyage. �¯�¿�½If there is a large blob of ground, it predicts money.

Where to Buy Greek Coffee
Greek – or Turkish – coffee can be found in many groceries and in Mediterranean and Arabic food markets. It comes in a can or a bag, in various quantities. If you can’t find Greek coffee at a store near you, you can buy it online from igourmet.

Preparing Greek Coffee
Use a bricki ,a small, usually brass or copper, pot with a small mouth, a pouring lip, and a long handle, to prepare Greek coffee.�¯�¿�½ First, measure the coffee using the coffee cup as a guide.�¯�¿�½ Measure one cup of grounds for each cup desired.�¯�¿�½ Greek coffee is served in a small cup, similar but slightly smaller than a demitasse cup.

Add one demitasse cup of water to the bricki , followed by the desired amount of sugar. For metrio, add 1tsp. of sugar for each cup of coffee. Bring the water and sugar to a rolling boil.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Remove the pot from the fire.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Stir in the coffee and return the bricki to the heat.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ The coffee will boil to the top immediately, so be prepared to remove the pot again in just a few seconds.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ReturnÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½the brickiÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½to the heat and again remove it after a few seconds.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Repeat once more, for a total of three boilings.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ Pour the coffee immediately into Greek coffee cups, filling each to about 1/4″ from the top.

No spoon is served (since the coffee is already sweetened).�¯�¿�½ Cream or milk is never added to Greek coffee.�¯�¿�½ In Greece, it is customary to serve a tall glass of ice water with coffee.

A Personal Note: You cannot use an American-style coffeemaker to brew Greek coffee.�¯�¿�½ The grind is too fine and it will clog your coffee machine and make a big mess. (I know this from personal experience.)

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