I first heard about Greek coffee, “ellinkos”, and wondered if it were actually Greek (elliniko) or Turkish.
Well, Greek coffee is exactly the same as Turkish coffee and, in fact, it was called “Turkish” until the political tensions between Greece and Turkey in the ‘70s. Then, “Turkish” coffee became “Greek”.
Greek coffee is prepared according to one’s liking: skétos (plain – unsweetened), me olígi (with a little sugar), métrios (equal amounts coffee and sugar) or glykós (sweet).
Although it is usually served in a tiny demitasse cup, in the kafeneia you will see most men drinking it out of a small glass. It is meant to be sipped slowly in order to get the full flavor. You will notice some elders taking loud sips of coffee and may even think this is rude, however, this is considered to increase the enjoyment of the drinking process. Being a “ritual” which may last for hours, it suits the Greek coffee culture to a T.
Going out for coffee is a favourite pastime for the Greeks; both young and old alike. The common invitation to see a friend is, “Wanna go for coffee?”. Traditional Greek coffee is still served in most coffee places. Greek coffee is much more savoury when prepared in the traditional way, simmered over low heat in a bríki (a special coffee pot). However, nowadays, many modern cafés tend to compromise on quality by making it in an espresso machine.
Finally, I have come to realize that it is not whether it is “Greek” or “Turkish” that is the issue, but the enjoyment in which makes it, without a doubt, a big deal. Everything starts with a cup of coffee. It is a whole culture, a tradition. The act of making Greek coffee, serving Greek coffee and drinking Greek coffee is an art entirely of its own.