Greek coffee (“Ellinikos Kafes”) is one of the simplest ways to make coffee. It is also known as Turkish coffee. Coffee has a very old history…
It traveled to Turkey from Yemen and from Turkey it became known in Greece. It became so popular that people started calling it “Greek coffee” instead of Turkish (or Arabic) coffee.
Usually Greek coffee gets roasted lighter than traditional Turkish coffee.
Another difference is that Greeks rarely add spices to their coffee.
How to make Greek coffee
The basic ingredient needed for a delicious Greek coffee is fresh roasted coffee, ground to an extra fine coffee powder (finer than espresso). You can also grind you own coffee beans using a traditional Greek coffee grinder or a modern high quality burr grinder.
Like Turkish coffee in order to make Greek coffee you basically bring a mixture of water and ground coffee almost to boil. Although Turkish people boil their coffee usually 3-4 times Greeks prefer boiling it 1-3 times.
The blends used to make Greek coffee have usually a high percentage of Brazilian coffees, and also some Robusta or a “secret” ingredient to add some more flavour (Colombian coffee, Ethiopia Harrar or Yemen Mocha).
In order to make Greek coffee we need a coffee pot known as briki in Greece. This special Greek coffee pot has a characteristic narrow top which facilitates the correct slow brewing of Turkish coffee and the forming of the famous “kaimaki”, which is basically the crema-froth on top of the coffee.
Traditionally these pots were made of copper or brass, but nowadays they are mass produced using stainless steel which is more durable. (I still prefer the brass ibriks for lots of reasons…). Use the proper size coffee pot to make better coffee and better froth. If you are going to make two demitasse cups of coffee use a 2-cups size coffee pot. If you use a much larger sized pot, crema forming will be much harder.
For one cup of coffee, fill the coffee pot with one demitasse cup of cold water, 1-2 teaspoons of Greek coffee, sugar to taste, and then put the pot on low fire. It is very important to use low fire and cold water to extract more flavor from the coffee. Use a gas stove-top or preferably a traditional tabletop burner.
Once the mixture comes almost to a boil and the foam covers the top, pour it into a demitasse cup slowly. You must do this slowly in order to retain the crema layer (froth) on top. If you fail to remove the coffee pot from fire on time, the coffee mixture will foam up quickly and it will get spilled everywhere! Be careful to not let this happen!
Small tip if you want to make two cups or more
There is an old trick used to maximize the froth on top of every demitasse cup, which basically involves taking the froth with a teaspoon from the coffee pot and then adding it to each demitasse cup, before pouring the coffee.
Traditionally the coffee is served using decorative discs, in small demitasse cups made of fine porcelain.
You can also pair Greek coffee with a nice desert like cookies (“koulourakia”), “halva” or “baklava”.
Things to notice
Some people bring the coffee to boil only once. Other people prefer twice and there are also some people who argue that bringing the coffee to boil three times is the absolute minimum.
Another point of argument is the stirring. Some people stir coffee, water and sugar only in the beginning and some other stir continuously till the end to make more froth.
I prefer to stir the coffee continuously till the end and I also let it foam up twice.
“Why?” you may ask. It is just my taste! You can experiment and find what you like best.
What’s most important is the freshness and the quality of your Greek coffee.