The Greeks love for coffee

For Greeks, coffee is a perennial everyday favorite, as Greeks drink more coffee per capita than even the French and Italians, and almost as much as Americans, and they may spend hours each week in cafes.

This fact did not escape Alastair Bland, a freelance writer based in San Francisco who was recently in Greece.

In an article he wrote for NPR he notes that Greeks are proud of their coffee, and notes that “if you call their rich, gritty signature brew “Turkish coffee” instead of Greek, you’re practically asking for a fight in the Greek islands,” which is probably a tad off the mark, as Greeks took to calling their coffee Greek after the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey.

The author also notes the inroads made by “a decidedly non-Greek brew: espresso,” which he chalks up to globalization, seeing that Larissa based Mikel Coffee, which focuses on espresso-based drinks, has spread through the country. The article says that “gritty Greek coffee has been put on the back burner,” adding that the tourism industry has also latched firmly onto espresso as hotels often install industrial-sized espresso machines in their kitchens, something they weren’t doing five years ago, says Athens architect Yiannis Giannopoulos, who oversees construction and remodeling of hotels.

The article also quotes Chrysa Gerolymatou, the general director of the Mikel Chain, who believes Greek coffee lovers increasingly see espresso as a more cosmopolitan, modern choice. Whatever the reasons, she says, espresso is undeniably catching on in Greece.

Espresso has been in Greece for about two decades, as a choice, but its popularity only recently took off.

However,t as noted drinking coffee and being out of house with your friends is part of Greek social identity, to such an extent that cash strapped modern Greeks would forego all other luxuries, but will never skimp on their coffee.

The article does point out that espresso machines are making inroads into homes, as according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm, sales of home-use espresso machines in Greece increased a total of 40 percent from 2008 to 2013. Forecasts suggest sales will continue to grow for at least the next five years.

But a discussion of coffee in Greece could not but mention that other fad that reshaped Greece’s coffee culture, the frappe, instant coffee whipped with cold water and served over ice, serving as a cool treat in the blistering Greek summers.

But now, even the iconic frappe could be displaced by espresso, because espresso, too, can easily be served cold, over ice, and is a much newer fad.

Asking if espresso will ever replace the traditional Greek coffee, the article quotes a Greek as saying “never,” as the traditional fare is now especially popular among folks 65 and older, and even though young people, enamored of the modern cafe culture, generally aren’t interested in drinking espresso’s gritty predecessor.

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