The mysteries of frappé coffee

What tea is to the British, frappé is to the Greeks – a day doesn’t pass without one or (frequently) more. One could well say frappè is the national drink of Greece. It is more popular than any other drink or beverage, as one can easily confirm by walking by any Greek café – on any given table, the frappés are outnumbered only by the number of cell phones in sight. Only during the colder days of winter does its popularity wane a bit, as people tend to prefer hot Greek coffee instead. In the summer however, frappè is the indisputable king.

The foam in a frappé glass makes the coffee look rich, but it is surprisingly light and refreshing. The reason is that it has no cream or ice-cream, just coffee, sugar and sometimes a little milk.

Frappé (hear it pronounced here)  is very easy to make. You will need:

A tall glass

A shaker or small hand mixer (a must in every Greek household)

Ice-cold water

Instant coffee

Sugar (optional)

2-4 ice cubes

Milk (optional)

Straw (necessary)

How to make it:

Pour one inch (2,5 cm) of cold water into your glass. Then add two teaspoonfuls of instant coffee and as much sugar as you like. (Water must go first. If you do it the other way round, a good quantity of the solids will stick to the bottom of the glass and won’t dissolve in the water.)

Stir well, moving your hand mixer up and down until a thick foam forms. (If you don’t have a hand mixer, use a shaker instead and follow the instructions as shown here.)

Add the ice cubes carefully, in order not to break the foam. Let them settle, then  fill up the glass with cold water. You may add a little milk if you like.

Stir well with a straw and drink slowly, preferably in good company.

It is unthinkable to drink your frappè quickly. Ideally, frappè drinking is a ritual that involves relaxing in front of something worth looking at (a great view, a sunset or people passing by) while talking with good friends about life, the universe and everything. Also ideally, it should take anywhere from one to three hours. In real life, of course, one has to make concessions. Much of the time, people drink their frappès alone, while working or studying. Company may be sought by talking on the phone. If one is in a hurry, they may take a coffee on the go from one of the countless little shops to be found in every Greek street. However, even if you are late, or have to drink your coffee while driving, you still have to take your time. It is bad form to drink your coffee in one go, as if it were some sort of nasty medicine. To Greeks, this shows nothing less than an inability to enjoy the good things in life. So, if you ever come to Greece, remember to drink your coffee slowly, unless you want to draw condescending glances. And, for goodness sake, don’t use it to accompany food – it is not a wine or a soda. Only cigarettes are permitted and a koulouri, if it’s time for breakfast.

You’ve been warned.

(For more information about frappé, and the Greek coffee culture, you may want to check out this site: and follow the links from there. Thanks for the tip, Mamastodromo)


7 comments on “The mysteries of frappé coffee

  1. No matter what I do, it’s jst not the same. guess we’ll have to come over there again for some taste of Greek frappe.

  2. I just purchased a greek frappe mixer and I must admit that I had forgotten what my Greek friend taught me 2 years ago. And I put in the ness and sugar first then added the water. So the foam wasn’t at thick. But thanks to this guide, I will do it right! Thanks for the guide! 😀

  3. Pingback: Greek coffee | Aristotle, Greek tourist guide

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