Imagine the perfect coffee drink that is made for the summer. A drink that you can sip while taking in a great view of the ocean and the beach. That drink is the Greek frappé. Born and bred by Greeks, a frappé is is a foam-covered iced coffee drink made from instant coffee (generally spray-dried), sugar, ice cubes and water. It can primarily be found in Greece, Cyprus, and other countries with a heavy Greek population (even in Brooklyn, NY).
Since the beginning, frappés are a symbol of post-war Greek outdoor coffee culture. So, how did this coffee masterpiece come into existence? Believe it or not, the frappé was invented by accident at the 1957 International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki. The inventor was Dimitris Vakondios, an employee of the representative of the Nestlé company at the fair. At the time, Nestlé was introducing a new chocolate beverage for children that was produced instantly in a shaker. During a break, Vakondios wanted to have his regular Nescafé Classic but he could not find any hot water, so he mixed the coffee with cold water in a shaker. Thus, the frappé was born!
The drink took on the name “frappé officially in 1979 and became the national coffee beverage of Greece, not to be confused with the French frappé. Greek frappé is available in three degrees of sweetness, determined by the amount of sugar used. These are:
- Glykós (sweet – two teaspoons of coffee and four teaspoons of sugar)
- Métrios (medium – two teaspoons of coffee and two teaspoons of sugar)
- Skétos (plain – two teaspoons of coffee and no sugar)
All varieties may be served with milk or evaporated milk, in which case they may be called in slang frapógalo (frappé-milk), or without. Sometimes, frappé is served without any water (besides the water used in the foam) and milk is used instead.
The recipe is simple! To prepare this coffee delight, you will need:
- A shaker or mixer (a hand mixer or immersion blender will do)
- One or two teaspoons of instant coffee (typically Nescafé)
- Sugar to taste (or sugar substitute)
Blend coffee, sugar and a little water to form a brownish foam, which is poured into a tall glass. To this, add cold water and ice cubes, and, optional, milk – typically evaporated milk. The glass is served with a drinking straw.
For 30 years and counting, the Greek frappé has been symbolically and visually connected to the easy-going and careless summertime for Greeks. This iconic connection and the unique property of the frappé consistency to maintain its quality longer than any other beverages, resulting in social sharing and a dynamic way of life. So if you want something to replace your iced coffee this summer, give a frappé a try!
Try a Greek frappé for yourself at this year’s Denver Greek Festival, June 21-23.