Greek Coffee: History, Taste, Plantation, Best Products
Coffee has been part of Greek culture for many centuries now, and their unique coffee is one of those things that you must try out when you visit the country.
Although coffee is not locally grown and all the beans used in the country are imported, the coffee industry in the country is one of the most vibrant and the best Greek coffee is up there with coffee from top coffee-growing countries.
It is remarkable that even during the economic crisis in 2008 when everything else in the country was in shambles new coffee cafés were still opening up in Greece, and the leading coffee brands were still making remarkable profits.
What all this means is that Greeks love their coffee and for most people in the country, it is that one thing that they always look forward to when they need to relax and have some good time away from all the economic and social difficulties.
In this piece, we explain what makes Greek coffee tick and also provide a background of its origin to show you why you need to try it out.
Flavor – Greek coffee is known for having a strong flavor that new coffee drinkers might find a little hard to handle without adding a sweetener like sugar. The stronger and bolder flavor stems from the fact that it is prepared from super finely ground coffee beans. For any coffee lover that likes their coffee strong, Greek coffee is one of the best coffees you can get anywhere.
Aroma – Like with the flavor, the aroma is also very strong with Greek coffee, and when brewing it using the traditional method, you will always get a very fragrant coffee flavor that is unmistakable anywhere. Also, if you are using a very dark roast, you also get more peppery, spicy and earthy tones.
Brewing – The brewing method is one of the key things that make Greek coffee special, and it entails using a traditional long handle brass or copper pot called a Briki. And what makes it differ from regular instant coffee is that with this traditional method you add all the ingredients to the pot and brew it all up together. The result is a super-strong black coffee that many Greeks prefer to consume without adding any milk.
History of Greek Coffee
While there are conflicting stories on how coffee first came to Greece, it is widely accepted that it came with the Turkish occupation of the country between 1423 and 1821.
It was the Turks that brought coffee to Greece as coffee was part of their culture for many years. And the first coffee shop in Greece, the Kiva Han Coffee Shop was opened in 1475 before several others popped up in major towns in the country soon after.
Coffee shops or Kafeinos as they are referred to as in Greek were back then just like they are today, gathering places for older Greek men who met to discuss life issues and play backgammon.
But besides the opening up of coffee shops selling Turkish coffee in Greece, the coffee culture can also be traced back to the Luomidis brothers who introduced the first ready ground coffee to the country. Luomidis coffee became widely popular with Greeks in their home country and everywhere else they settled.
Changing of Name from Turkish to Greek Coffee
Up to the 1950s, Greeks referred to their coffee as Turkish coffee, but things started changing in 1955 when all Greeks were expelled from Istanbul and hence leading to a hostile relationship between the two states.
And the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 made things even worse, and the prevailing anti-Turkish sentiment and ever-growing Greek nationalism prompted the name change from Turkish to Greek coffee.
By the 1980s it was widely deemed politically incorrect for Greeks to continue referring to their coffee as Turkish, and with TV commercials popularizing the new name into the 1990s, soon Turkish coffee was almost forgotten and in came Greek coffee.
How It Is Roasted
With any coffee type, your roast is all up to your tastes, preferences and the kind of coffee you want to make. Greek coffee is no exception, and so you can go with any roast that your heart desires.
However, like with traditional Turkish coffee, the best Greek coffee beans will have a medium to dark roast as it will help bring out the best flavors in the coffee and ensure a good balance between acidity and aroma.
But, if you are going for a dark roast, make sure that you do not overdo it as you can easily end up with overly bitter coffee.
If you are not sure with the dark roast, you should stick with a medium roast as it will provide a nice balance of flavors, and you are less likely to end up with coffee that is too bitter no matter how you brew it.
Brewing Methods for Greek Coffee
When it comes to brewing Greek coffee, the traditional method that entails the use of the Briki is the best as it will allow you to enjoy coffee that is as close to what is enjoyed in Greece as possible.
Briki coffee is often brewed on a stovetop, and it is quite straightforward as you will only need to measure the finely ground coffee and water, add them to the kettle (Briki), place it over the fire and wait for the coffee to brew.
But, besides knowing just how to make Greek coffee, it is important to note that there are 4 main styles of making it, and they will often differ according to the amount of sugar added.
1. Sketos – This is unsweetened Greek coffee that does not contain any sugar at all which means it can be quite strong (or even bitter for some drinkers), and it is made with 1 teaspoon of ground coffee and water.
2. Metrios – Probably the most popular coffee style in Greek, Metrios is semi-sweetened coffee that is neither too bitter nor too sweet. This coffee is made by adding a teaspoon of coffee and a teaspoon of sugar to the Briki before brewing.
3. Glikos – Glikos is sweeter coffee with no bitterness at all and it will be ideal for those with a sweeter tooth. To make it you add two teaspoons of sugar and one teaspoon of coffee to the Briki before boiling.
4. Variglikos – For the coffee lovers with a major sweet tooth, this is the ideal coffee. It entails adding at least one teaspoon of coffee and 3 tablespoons of sugar (or even more) before boiling. But, it is important to note that the high quantity of sugar might make the coffee a little less strong.
Facts about Greek Coffee Industry
1. In 2018, Greeks consumed at least 40,000 tons of coffee which is higher than what is consumed in many coffee-producing nations
2. Greece is ranked 17th in the world with a coffee consumption of 5.4 kilograms per capita per year
3. Greek coffee is actually Turkish coffee and the name was only changed in the 1960s due to political reasons
4. With average prices of around $3.49, Greece is the 16th most expensive country to buy coffee
5. Every year, the Greek government generates at least 100 million euros in revenue from the coffee sector
6. About 40% of the coffee consumed in Greece is in coffee shops while 60% is made at home
7. There are 4 main styles of Greek coffee which are Sketos, Metrios, Glikos, and Variglikos
8. Medium to dark roast makes the best Greek Coffee
3 Best Greek Coffee Brands
1. Kafette Organic Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee and Greek coffee are one and the same thing and what differs is the name as the method of preparation, the roast and coffee ground fineness is the same. Hence with top-notch Turkish coffee like this, you can make all your favorite Greek coffee recipes at home.
This coffee is 100% organic Arabica coffee and the top grade quality will ensure you always end up with a great-tasting cup. Also, the beans are always freshly roasted before grinding and packaging to ensure you get them while still as fresh as possible.
When you get the coffee, it is perfectly ground to a super fine consistency that will be ideal for your Greek coffee, and so you will only need Briki and some water to make coffee. And you can be sure that every ounce of grounds will produce some amazing coffee as they are well-packaged to ensure they never go stale.
Kahwe is one of the best Greek coffee brands out there and they have perfected the art of roasting and grinding coffee beans to suit Greek coffee making perfectly. These particular coffee grounds are an example of this.
The company roasts and grinds them as close to packaging as possible to ensure you will always end up with freshest grinds for your coffee possible. And the grinds are also super fine and specifically made for Greek/Turkish coffee.
The roasting also makes them even better as it is done in small batches and done slowly to ensure consistency. Also, these are 100% Arabica beans with no artificial flavors or additives to ensure you always get that smooth body, superior flavor and rich aroma that is characteristic of Arabica beans.
This coffee also comes with a satisfaction guarantee which is always a good thing as it means you have nothing to lose because if you do not like it, you will get your money back.
The fact that this coffee is from one of the oldest Turkish coffee companies should give you some confidence that it is as good as it can get because Mehmet Efendi has been in business long enough to know what coffee drinkers are looking for.
These coffee grinds come from the finest Arabica coffee beans, and so you can be sure that you will get the richest flavor and aroma in your cup. And they also come in that super fine grind that you will need to make your Greek coffee.
Better yet, the company pays a lot of attention to ensuring they keep the grinds as fresh as possible. They do this by roasting and grinding them as close to packaging as possible, and by filling/packaging the container using advanced machines to ensure the coffee remains as fresh as it was during the day of packaging.
If you are a coffee lover that likes to try out interesting recipes, Greek coffee should be on your list of coffee brews you must try. And you can easily get everything you need to make it online from the traditional Briki kettle to high-quality coffee beans.
Greece might not be a coffee grower, but it has one of the most successful coffee industries in the world and coffee is part of the culture there.
Besides highlighting the key things you need to know about this amazing coffee, this piece also provides reviews to help you choose the best Greek coffee. Hence, all you need to do now is try it out at home and it will probably end up being your new favorite coffee.