Greeks get a bad rap for being lazy- wasting away their days drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. That’s actually largely untrue, as Greeks are tied with Austrians for working the longest hours in Europe. Propaganda against Greeks is a different story though. This post is about the national coffee of Greece, the frappe.
It’s certainly true that Greeks enjoy their coffee. If you dine at any Greek restaurant around the world it’s very likely that a friendly (albeit loud and opinionated) proprietor will offer you a free Greek coffee or a piece of baklava after your dinner. This is because it’s not just good hospitality, it’s also good business. And it’s something not all cultures understand the concept of unfortunately.
At your local Greek taverna in Butte, Montana you’ll more likely be offered an espresso style coffee (traditional Greek coffee). And hopefully if done right, the coffee grounds will not be floating to the top of your cup. But Greece is hot much of the year so Greeks often prefer to drink a cold Starbucks like coffee (and no, not actual Starbucks, not yet anyway!).
Starbucks has the frappuchino, Greece has the frappe. But unlike in the USA, where sitting outside to enjoy your Starbucks frappuchino will likely give you a view of a shopping center parking lot, Greeks prefer to enjoy their frappes with a scenic view of something other than Publix.
So what is a frappe? It’s actually just 1 or 2 teaspoons of instant coffee (usually Nescafe), mixed with a couple teaspoons of sugar and cold water and blended with a hand mixer or cocktail shaker until forming a thick foam. Blending instant coffee forms a much denser foam than filter brewed coffee or espresso. The thick coffee foam is then poured over a tall glass filled with ice cubes, and optionally topped with milk. It’s simple, but when done well, it’s pretty darn good, especially on a hot day. Greeks usually make frappes very sweet, so if you only want 1 sugar or no sugar let your server know!
Frappes usually aren’t cheap in Greece though. Expect to often pay around €4 ($5 US) in many places. The reason is that many Greeks often spend 2 hours or more talking over 1 coffee and they sometimes won’t order anything else. So proprietors need to make some money on the butt that’s filling that chair. But paying $5 for a drive-thru coffee in Greece? They’d think you were mental!