Santorini is known for many things: spectacular sunsets, white-washed buildings, charming windmills, colourful beaches, and beautiful vistas. It is also a popular destination among coffee lovers who travel from all across the world to lose themselves in Greece’s coffee culture. Although you would not typically associate Greece with extreme coffee consumption, it does, in fact, rank at number 15 on the list of the countries with the highest coffee consumption in the world. In order to understand the coffee culture on the island (and the rest of the country), it is as important to understand the history of coffee as it is to find the best places to grab a cup of freshly-brewed java.
Coffee forms an integral part of Greek history
Coffee first arrived in Greece during the period of the Ottoman empire. After it was originally discovered in Ancient Arabia where it was made into an aromatic drink, it made its way to Constantinople, where the first coffee shop of its kind opened in 1425. Coffee culture spread around the world like wildfire, and now, several hundred years later, the world’s second-most consumed hot drink has firmly cemented itself into Greek culture. While the tradition may not have originated in the country, drinking copious amounts of coffee is considered to be a very Greek thing to do.
Traditional Greek coffee remains popular
Despite Santorini boasting various modern restaurants and coffee shops serving exquisite brews from around the world, traditional Greek coffee remains popular. Greek coffee is a strongly-brewed coffee that is similar to the brews found in surrounding countries. Brewing traditional Greek coffee requires two things: a specific pot called a briki and a very fine grind of coffee beans, which can be found at various outlets on the island and mainland Greece. Apart from being used to create a delectable brew, these two items also make great gifts for anyone who loves coffee. The coffee is so popular that a special lingo exists just to describe the different variants. The term ‘sketos’ refers to coffee without sugar, while ‘metrios’ is with one teaspoon of sugar. If you want two teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, you need to ask for ‘glykos,’ while coffee lovers with a very sweet tooth will ask for a cup of ‘variglykos’ coffee.
Santorini is home to many superb coffee outlets
Coffee Island is fast becoming one of Santorini’s foremost coffee shops, and with very good reason: not only do they serve a wide variety of coffees (including vegan options) but they also employ baristas that take great pride in their craft. Franco’s is listed as one of the island’s most popular bars, although it is also known to sell some of the best coffee and Greek pastries imaginable during the breakfast service. If you grab your espresso or cappuccino early enough, you can get the best seat in the house from which to watch the sunrise. Another popular spot amongst local and visiting coffee lovers is Melenio Café, which has a strict ‘No Wi-Fi) policy but serves some of the best hot brews and sweet delicacies in Santorini.
Santorini boasts a vibrant coffee culture that attracts coffee lovers from not only mainland Greece, but all over the world as well. Even visitors who are not self-proclaimed coffee fans are often easily persuaded to try at least one cup of delicious, traditional Greek brew.