Why Is Greek Coffee Thick?

Greek coffee, two mugs

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Greek coffee is a traditional drink that has been enjoyed in Greece for centuries. It is known for its unique taste and thick texture, which sets it apart from other types of coffee. In this section, we will go over the basics of Greek coffee, including its history, preparation, and ingredients.

Traditionally, Greek coffee is made using finely ground coffee beans that are boiled in a special pot called a briki. The briki is a small, narrow pot with a long handle and a spout. It is designed to help create the thick foam that is characteristic of Greek coffee.

To make Greek coffee, we start by adding water to the briki and bringing it to a boil. Then, we add the coffee grounds and sugar (if desired) to the pot and continue to boil the mixture until it begins to foam. Once the foam reaches the top of the briki, we remove it from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the grounds to settle.

One of the reasons Greek coffee is so thick is due to the way it is prepared. The coffee beans used in Greek coffee are finely ground, which allows for more surface area to come into contact with the water. This, in turn, creates a stronger and thicker coffee.

In addition to the fine grind of the coffee beans, the use of a briki also contributes to the thickness of Greek coffee. The narrow shape of the pot and the long handle allow for precise control over the heat and the amount of foam produced. This results in a rich and creamy texture that is unique to Greek coffee.

Preparation and Brewing Process

To make Greek coffee, we use a special pot called a briki. The coffee is made on a gas stove or stovetop, and the process involves boiling the coffee grounds in water.

The first step is to add the coffee grounds to the briki. The coffee grounds are unfiltered and very finely ground, which is one reason why the coffee is so thick. We then add water to the briki and place it on the stove.

We use a slow and steady heat to brew the coffee. This allows the coffee to settle and the grounds to sink to the bottom of the briki. It is important not to stir the coffee during this process, as this can disrupt the settling process and make the coffee less thick.

As the water heats up, the coffee begins to boil. The boiling process is crucial for making Greek coffee thick. The coffee boils for a few minutes until it forms a thick, foamy layer on top. This layer is called kaimaki and is a sign that the coffee is ready.

Once the coffee has boiled, we remove it from the heat and let it settle for a few minutes. This allows the coffee grounds to sink to the bottom of the briki and for the kaimaki to form on top. We then pour the coffee into small cups, being careful not to disturb the kaimaki.

Comparison with Other Coffees

When it comes to coffee, Greek coffee stands out for its unique texture and taste. Let’s take a look at how Greek coffee compares to other popular types of coffee.

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is very similar to Greek coffee, with both types being brewed using finely ground coffee beans and served unfiltered. However, Turkish coffee is often brewed with sugar, while Greek coffee is traditionally served unsweetened. This makes Greek coffee slightly less sweet than Turkish coffee.


Espresso is a strong, concentrated coffee that is brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. Unlike Greek coffee, espresso is not brewed with a specific type of coffee pot. Espresso also has a smoother texture than Greek coffee, which is known for its thick and gritty consistency.

Strong Coffee

Strong coffee is a broad term that can refer to any coffee that has a high caffeine content. Greek coffee is known for its strong flavor, but it may not necessarily have a higher caffeine content than other types of coffee.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is a type of coffee that has been pre-brewed and dehydrated. It is often used as a quick and convenient alternative to freshly brewed coffee. Greek coffee is not available in an instant form, as it requires a specific type of coffee pot and brewing method.

Turkish Delight

Turkish delight is a sweet confection that is often served alongside Turkish coffee. Greek coffee is traditionally served with a glass of water, but it can also be enjoyed with a sweet treat like Turkish delight.

Bosnian Coffee

Bosnian coffee is similar to both Turkish and Greek coffee, as it is brewed using finely ground coffee beans and served unfiltered. However, Bosnian coffee is often brewed with cardamom, which gives it a unique flavor and aroma.


Cappuccino is a type of espresso-based coffee that is topped with frothed milk. It is often served with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon. Unlike Greek coffee, cappuccino is not brewed using a specific type of coffee pot.

Double Shot

A double shot of espresso is simply two shots of espresso served in one cup. It is often stronger than a single shot of espresso, but it still has a smoother texture than Greek coffee.

Taste Profile and Serving Styles

Greek coffee is known for its thick and rich taste profile. The coffee is brewed in a special pot called a briki, which allows the coffee to boil and create a thick foam on top. The foam is an essential component of Greek coffee and adds to the unique taste experience.

There are three traditional serving styles for Greek coffee: sketos, glykos, and metrios. Sketos is the Greek word for black coffee, which is served without sugar. Glykos is the Greek word for sweet, and this style of coffee is served with sugar. Metrios is the Greek word for medium, and this style of coffee is served with a moderate amount of sugar.

The amount of sugar used in Greek coffee can vary depending on personal preference. Some people prefer their coffee to be very sweet, while others prefer a more moderate sweetness. The term vary-glykos is used to describe coffee that is served with a varying amount of sugar, depending on the customer’s preference.

In addition to the traditional serving styles, there is also a variation of glykos called variglykos. This style of coffee is served with a very high amount of sugar, creating a very sweet and syrupy taste.

Cultural Significance and Consumption

Greek coffee is not just a beverage, but a cultural symbol that has been a part of Greek daily life for centuries. It is often enjoyed in the morning as a way to start the day and is usually served with a glass of water. In fact, the Greek coffee culture is so deeply ingrained in Greek society that it is often referred to simply as “coffee” or “ellinikos kafes.”

Coffee culture in Greece is unique, as it is not just about the coffee itself, but also about the experience of drinking it. Greek cafes, known as “kafeneio,” are a central part of Greek social life, where people gather to drink coffee, chat, and play games. These cafes are often located in the heart of neighborhoods and are frequented by locals of all ages.

In cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, the coffee culture has evolved to include a more modern and trendy scene, with cafes serving specialty coffee drinks and featuring trendy decor. However, traditional kafeneio can still be found in smaller towns and villages throughout Greece.

The consumption of Greek coffee is also intertwined with Greek culture and politics. In the past, Greek coffee was often used as a symbol of resistance against foreign influence, particularly during the Ottoman Empire. Today, Greek coffee is still seen as a symbol of Greek identity and pride.

There are also different ways to prepare Greek coffee depending on the region. For example, in the region of Elafris, the coffee is prepared with a mix of cinnamon and cloves, while in Varis it is prepared with sugar and cardamom. In Vrastos, the coffee is prepared with a pinch of salt.

Variations and Modern Takes

When it comes to Greek coffee, there are many variations and modern takes that have been developed over the years. These variations and modern takes offer new and exciting ways to enjoy this traditional beverage.

One popular variation is the Frappe, which is a cold, frothy coffee that is typically served with ice cubes. This refreshing drink is perfect for hot summer days and is enjoyed by many Greeks and tourists alike. Another variation is Iced Coffee, which is made by pouring hot coffee over ice and adding milk and sugar to taste.

Espresso Freddo is another popular variation of Greek coffee. This drink is made by pouring a shot of espresso over ice and adding sugar to taste. Cappuccino Freddo is a similar drink, but it is made with frothed milk and a shot of espresso.

For those who prefer a stronger coffee flavor, the Greek Frappe is a great option. This drink is made with instant coffee, sugar, and water, and is shaken to create a frothy, creamy texture. It is typically served with a straw and a small spoon for stirring.

To create these variations and modern takes, many Greeks use a Milk Frother to create a creamy, frothy texture. Ice Cubes are also commonly used to create a refreshing, cold drink. Some people also add Bubble to their coffee for a unique, bubbly texture.

Finally, it is worth noting that Greek coffee is traditionally served in a Demitasse Cup, which is a small cup that holds about 2-3 ounces of liquid. This small cup is perfect for sipping and enjoying the rich, bold flavor of Greek coffee.

Major Brands and Coffee Shops

When it comes to Greek coffee, there are several major brands and coffee shops that are known for their quality and unique flavor. Here are a few that stand out:


Loumidis is one of the oldest and most well-known Greek coffee brands. They have been producing coffee since 1926 and are still family-owned. Loumidis coffee is made from a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which gives it a rich and full-bodied flavor. The coffee is ground very finely, which is what gives it its thick consistency. Loumidis coffee is available in both regular and decaf varieties.


Bravo is another popular Greek coffee brand. They use a blend of 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta beans, which gives their coffee a slightly milder flavor than some other brands. Bravo coffee is also ground very finely, which makes it thick and creamy. In addition to their regular coffee, Bravo also offers a variety of flavored coffees, including hazelnut, vanilla, and caramel.


Glykys is a newer Greek coffee brand that has quickly gained popularity. They use a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which are roasted in small batches to ensure quality and consistency. Glykys coffee is ground slightly coarser than some other brands, which gives it a slightly lighter texture. However, it is still thick and creamy and has a unique flavor that sets it apart from other Greek coffees.

Greek Coffee in the Global Context

Greek coffee, also known as Turkish coffee, is a popular drink in Greece and other parts of the world. It is a strong, thick, and aromatic coffee that is made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in a pot called a briki. In this section, we will explore the origins of Greek coffee and its place in the global coffee culture.

Greek coffee has its roots in the Ottoman Empire, where it was introduced in the 16th century. The Ottomans brought coffee from Yemen and introduced it to the Balkans, where it quickly became popular. Over time, the coffee culture in the Balkans evolved and took on its own unique characteristics, including the preparation of Turkish/Greek coffee.

Today, Greek coffee is popular in many countries, including Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East. It is also gaining popularity in other parts of the world, including the United States, where it is often served in Greek and Mediterranean restaurants.

One of the unique characteristics of Greek coffee is its thickness. The coffee is made by boiling finely ground coffee beans in water, which creates a thick, frothy layer on top of the coffee. This layer is known as kaimaki, and it is a defining characteristic of Greek coffee.

The thickness of Greek coffee is due in part to the type of coffee beans used. Arabica beans, which are commonly used in many other types of coffee, are not typically used in Greek coffee. Instead, Greek coffee is made with a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which gives it a unique flavor and texture.

Overall, Greek coffee has a rich history and a unique place in the global coffee culture. Its thick, frothy texture and strong, aromatic flavor make it a popular drink in many parts of the world. Whether enjoyed in a traditional Greek coffeehouse or in a modern café, Greek coffee is a delicious and distinctive beverage that is sure to delight coffee lovers everywhere.

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