When it comes to coffee culture, Greek coffee is one of the key aspects of the country’s social culture as well as an amazing coffee experience in its own right. Greek coffee is rich in flavor and is brewed in a distinctive and unique way.
One of the most unusual aspects of Greek coffee is that the beans are ground into an incredibly fine powder, almost like flour, and are left in the cup when you drink it. This unusual approach is what makes Greek coffee so popular.
The very fine grounds are brewed in a particular type of tall coffee pot which is known as a Briki and it contains no filter. After brewing in the Briki, Greek coffee is served straight into a cup, which is normally a demitasse size cup.
When in Greece, this coffee is served with a sweet biscuit or pastry and usually a glass of water as well. It is traditionally drunk black and doesn’t require sugar as if you want a sweet version, the sugar is added during the brewing process.
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This style of coffee used to be known as Turkish coffee up until the 1960s, but historical changes and political issues saw the term removed gradually and it was replaced with Greek coffee. By around 1990, referring to Turkish coffee was seen as politically incorrect, and the common term used everywhere in Greece is now Greek coffee.
Greek coffee is served black, without milk, but for those with a sweet tooth, there are varieties to know about, as the sugar is added during the brewing process, rather than afterward in your cup. This is one of the unique properties of Greek coffee.
So, if you are ordering a Greek coffee you will see there are different varieties available, and you need to choose the one which most matches your taste when it comes to sweetness. Here is a quick rundown of the options:
This version is pure coffee and doesn’t contain any sugar, so is a strong black coffee brewed in the traditional way. It is very unusual to add milk to Greek coffee.
This version is brewed with one teaspoon of sugar added for every teaspoon of coffee used, making it equally sweet and coffee focussed. So, if you like your brew slightly sweet, but not too much, then this is the one you’d go for in Greece.
If you have a sweeter tooth then you could try this version, which is brewed with two spoons of sugar for every spoon of coffee so it is a much sweeter version and would suit most people who prefer their coffee with some sugar.
Not for the faint-hearted, this is the fourth variety of Greek coffee and it’s incredibly sweet, with three spoons of sugar to every two spoons of coffee so if you like it sweet then go for this variety to satiate your taste buds.
This version has the same sugar level as number four but is boiled twice which means it doesn’t come with the foam on top that all the other versions of Greek coffee feature.
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How is Greek Coffee Made?
Greek coffee starts by grinding the beans into an incredibly fine powder. It needs to be fine because the grounds are left in the cup when it’s served so if you used a coarser grind you would end up with a mouth full of grit.
To get the right grind for Greek coffee you need a good grinder so it’s probably not one that you can easily replicate at home, without the right equipment.
As well as a good quality grinder you would also need a Briki which is a tall coffee pot. It’s important that you get the right size of Briki as well. They normally come in three size options, either a 2-cup, 4-cup, or 6-cup pot.
You need a Briki which can hold the number of cups you want to offer, plus an extra one so there is room in the Briki to create the foam. If you don’t leave enough room for the foam, you will end up with a big mess.
However, it’s important to know that the term cups, doesn’t equate to how many coffees you want to serve, just to be confusing. Greek coffee is normally served in Espresso size small cups, so a 2-cup Briki would serve around six people, and a four-cup Briki would serve around eleven people.
The term cups when it comes to the Briki doesn’t equate to the size of espresso or demitasse cups usually used for servings. If you were going to serve your coffee in full-sized mugs then it will work out to a different amount, so it’s important to bear that in mind when buying a Briki.
As Greek coffee is very concentrated, like espresso, you would normally only want a small serving and traditionally it is served black with no milk or added extras.
How is it Brewed?
Once you have decided on the size of Briki you need, you are ready to start the brewing process. It works by adding the water first and putting the Briki onto a medium or low heat on the stove. You then stir in the required amount of coffee and sugar for the type of Greek coffee you are making.
Once it has all been stirred, the Briki sits on the stove until the coffee begins to boil and you can see the foam starting to rise. Once there is enough foam, the pot is taken off the heat otherwise it will start to spill over.
When drinking Greek coffee, it’s important to be patient and to remember that the grounds need to settle at the bottom of the cup. Coffee drinking in Greece is a slow and leisurely activity undertaken with friends. If you try to drink it too fast, you will end up with a mouthful of mud instead.