While many of us might cringe at the thought of “Nescafe”, in Greece the coffee giant Nestlee has found a committed following – before Starbucks invented the “Frappuccino”, the Greeks invented the “frappe”. What’s terrific about this intense cold coffee drink is that you can make one fairly easily (and cheaply) on the go. Just visit any kiosk and look for the prepackaged “just add water” version or find yourself a “Nescafe stick” at any supermarket, dump it into a bottle of icey cold water and shake vigorously.
The frappe (pronounced fra-pay), an ice coffee drink, is now as much a part of Greek culture as feta cheese and olives. A frappe is made with four basic ingredients: Nescafe (instant coffee), sugar, water and milk. Each ingredient on its own would be ok with the exception of the Nescafe, but it is the combination, in closely guarded proportions of all four, that have won the hearts of nearly the entire Greek population.
Mixing the Nescafe, sugar and a little bit of water together is the first step in the delicate process of frappe creation. The mixture is then given a quick spin the frappe machine (of course they have developed a special appliance for frappe) to stir up the ingredients and create a thick, foamy head. Finally, milk is added along with a couple of ice cubes. Fill the remainder of the glass with ice cold water, add a straw and prepare yourself for the long, slow relaxing process of drinking the fabled frappe.
Drinking frappe is an art itself and one that the Greeks have perfected over many years. You can see evidence of this in any of the cafes along Imittou. When a frappe arrives at your table on a hot summer’s day, your first impulse is to slurp down the cold refreshing coffee drink as quickly as possible. If your goal is to shock your Greek hosts into disbelief, this will most likely have the desired effect. However, if you are trying to blend in with the local culture you will need to sit back, relax and take small sips, stretching out your coffee pleasure for at least an hour. This way, no one will stare, point and comment that you are a Frappe amateur!
How to order a Frappe:
Skeh-toe – Plain, no milk or sugar
Skeh-toe may ghala – Milk, no sugar
Meh-tree-oh – Medium sweet
Glee-koe – Very sweet
Mey –ghala – With milk