I’ve been more-or-less off the Greek coffee for several months; it just wires me up too much, and when my agitation threshold is already high due to work and other stressors, that morning cup of Greek nectar just sends my heart-rate and anxiety levels through the roof. Little wonder we call it “the defibrillator”.
But like most addictions, even when you’ve been clean for months, the cravings persist. And like trying to quit smoking while living with a smoker, I still have to make the Greek coffee for my wife every morning; a form of near monastic self-torture akin to strapping on the cilice in The Da Vinci Code.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that I make what is reputedly one damned fine cup of Greek coffee, rivaling the best in Greece. It isn’t uncommon to get a cellphone call from a client, business partner, or friend, asking me to have the Greek coffee ready before they get to my home. I came by this skill honestly, having trained with a number of highly skilled “kafedsithes” (coffee specialists) in Greece, and most notably in the monasteries of Mount-Athos over 14 visits in 35 years, where they make hundreds if not thousands of cups a day for visiting pilgrims and the monks themselves.
In my opinion, Greek coffee is the simplest and purest form of coffee consumption: It requires no filters, pressure pumps, or elaborate equipment. It is preferably made in a briki, a cone-shaped pot that concentrates the kaimaki (what the Italians call the “crema”) onto the surface. The kaimaki is a collection of oils and very fine coffee grit that makes the first few sips a portal into Heaven itself. There can be no Greek coffee without the kaimaki!
For detailed instructions, I refer you to my first post ever in this blog, here.
The web site, Kopiaste….To Greek Hospitality (from which I have drawn the photo above) also has an excellent review of Greek coffee and how to make it. I chose the photo because it so closely resembles this morning’s breakfast of Greek coffee plus a thick slice of tsoureki, a denser and sweeter version of hallah bread, traditional at Christmas, New Year, and Easter.
Note the ashtray in the background…Greeks are now officially the world’s heaviest smokers, a recent ban in restaurants and bars largely ignored and unenforced. Like paying taxes, Greeks view laws as suggestions rather than requirements (hence the current economic situation).