Conversations on Coffee

Tea and coffee. I have written about tea, and have mentioned my father’s black instant coffee in the early morning.

Greek coffee is different. Foreigners who have had a cup always warn of the sludge that lies waiting to choke you in the bottom of the cup. Greek coffee is Middle Eastern. They make the same coffee in Turkey and Lebanon and even further east.

Greek coffee was colloquially known as Turkish coffee in Greece until 1974. After the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, Greeks banished the Turkish descriptor as if that would stop the colonial prowess of their neighbour. They should also have come up with a new name for coffee as well, because coffee has its origins in the Ottoman vocabulary. The term coffee found its way into European languages in about the 1600’s, most probably from the Italian term ‘caffe’ which was derived from the Turkish pronunciation ‘kahveh’ of the Arabic ‘qahwah’.

Greek coffee is not bean specific, although I should imagine they used Arabica beans in the beginning. It should be ground from freshly roasted beans. The grind is a very fine one. Most European commercial grinders cannot grind coffee fine enough for this coffee. It is best done by hand, or other wise use a Turkish hand or commercial grinder.

To make it one needs to decide on the sweetness required before. It can be plain,  medium or sweet depending on how much sugar is added. A teaspoon of coffee is added to the briki, a small inverted conical pot, preferably in copper. Water for each person is measured with a demitasse cup and sugar is added as desired. The mixture is stirred cold then brought to heat (preferably gas) but not to boil. Stirring stops once all the components are dissolved. A fresh  grind will allow a rich froth to develop. This froth can be improved by lifting the briki off the heat and keeping it from boiling. The very hot mixture id poured into thin walled cups. If the height of the pour is increased it can add to the froth, but too high, like boiling, adds bigger bubbles.

Its best to wait a bit before drinking as it is hot and will always burn your lips if rushed. It is always served with a cold glass of water to rinse the palate afterwards. The grounds that remain can be turned upside down into the saucer and tell your future.

I never saw my father drink a Greek coffee. I know he would not have delved into reading of  the future. He made his future.

Coffee table at Aegina in the seventies

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