Monday 16 July 2018

A Long Time Between Drinks

Old-School On Paros

Twenty-three years, to be precise. The drink I speak of here is the humble Greek Frappé. For the uninitiated, it is not merely an iced coffee, which is and can be enjoyed in Any Old Place. Indeed, the traditional frappé is a Cultural Staple, if not National Treasure, and is made from a heady mix of instant Nescafé coffee (I know), ice and water and optionally finished with a goodly dash of UHT or evaporated milk (again, I know). It comes in three shades of sweetness: very sweet, toe-curlingly sweet or not sweet at all. You sip it leisurely over many hours, confident in the knowledge that the subtly distinctive flavour cannot be found beyond the birthplace of the Twelve Olympic Gods.

The Object Of My Affection On Antiparos

It is a little known fact that before the Barista became a tattooed and twirly-moustachioed international noun, sporting a certificate of competency, Pipstrello spent a summer on a dusty Greek island as a Coffee Maker, as the occupation was so quaintly called. And not your fancy Italian variety of coffee - these being pre Mr. P. days, after all. Rather, my repertoire deftly switched between the Classical Frappé and Ye Olde Greek, thick and muddy and beloved by the old men who cluttered up the tables in the square all day long, playing with their worry beads and their endless games of backgammon and generally staying out from under the feet of their busy wives at home.

Dead Posh In Athens - Behold The Freddo Cappuccino

The frappé was my hands down winner for personal preference. Greek Coffee? ... Well, it’s just muddy and way too strong and so I never really drank it. Upon getting a bit of a demonstration of how to make it on my first day, I asked my “boss” (I was, ahem, working for subsistence drachmas*) how I would know if I'd made it properly, to which the reply was that the Old Men would finish it. Suffice to say, one of the said old men did compliment me once with the praise that I made it just as well as his wife ... as you would hope, as I'd churned out hundreds & hundreds over the season.

Crafted By Hipsters In Athens

Chasing down the perfect frappé, the Greek National summertime drink, was an enjoyable part of my holiday experienced with the Lovely L, if not just to recapture the memory of my time on the Dodecanese outpost of Patmos. Between then and this past month spent in Athens and the Cycladic islands of Paros and Antiparos, 23 years have flashed by. Unsurprisingly, coffee drinking has become rather more sophisticated in Greece, with baristas and single origin roasts muscling out the humble “Nescaf” with the options of iced espressos and freddo cappuccinos, not to mention the liberal use of fresh milk (shocking). However, my more particular idea of perfect was met at least once when the magic formula of Nescafé and long-life milk collided. Just call me a Coffee Snob.

Turmeric Latte, Anyone? Antiparos Is Moving With The Times!

* Illegally, I have to admit. Oh, those carefree pre-EU days!


  1. The idea of a Classical Frappé or Ye Olde Greek really leave me grateful I didn't ever have to drink them. I love my coffee simple, unadulterated and unmuddy (I suppose the opposite of muddy is clear but no coffee is clear if it's worth drinking: tea on the other hand....). As for a cold turmeric lattee I'm speechless.

    1. Haha, yes, the cold turmeric latte did not beckon! And what goes on in Greece best stays in Greece in my book, as I realised a long time ago that the Frappé (and a daily ouzo!) will never charm the senses when imbibed at home. I drink my occasional coffees Italian-style but my preference will always be for tea.

      Thanks for stopping by Graham, please do come again!

    YIKES.........I know its GOOD FOR US BUT REALLY?Did you have one just to TASTE IT?
    I have yet to see GREECE..........what am I waiting for!!!!!!!!!??

    1. Too busy chasing down the frappes to stop for a cold turmeric latte! Funny to think that just eating the legendary healthful Mediterranean diet in the Mediterranean isn't enough for some, they have to go that extra mile!!...Oh, I saw Christina Onassis' boat there - I'm sure she'd appreciate your company...pack your caftans!! xx


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