Athens is a city of caffeine addicts; people sip Greek coffees and espressos all day long—really. You’ll find the best hot and cold brews in these coffee shops.
By Kimon Frangakis
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Athens is the victim of many tourist misconceptions and home to quite a few surprises. One such misconception is that Athenians mostly drink frappé (frothy, cold instant coffee) and that the coffee culture lags far behind in this part of the world. In fact, most Greeks ditched frappé (their own invention) 20 years ago and are presently ‘freddo’ enthusiasts: everything espresso and cappuccino, with or without sugar, served deliciously cold. Cold brew filter coffee is also gaining popularity and specialty or ‘third wave’ cafés are turning up everywhere.
TAF has well-trained baristas, exciting coffee selections, and a lovely space for sipping your drink.
Not far from Omonia Square, this is the downtown coffee lab of Yannis Taloumis, artisan roaster and global coffee influencer. A perfectionist who spends half his time travelling to remote plantations in Guatemala, Ethiopia and beyond to discuss new harvesting and fermenting techniques with coffee producers. TAF’s well-trained baristas are regularly awarded in international coffee challenges. The ‘house style’ combines light roasting with highly concentrated brewing, which allows for a rich, aromatic and quite acidic and fruity taste that seems to linger forever. Try the no-nonsense ‘Competition’ house blend with its nutmeg and dried apricot undertones, or the affordable and fabulous "Rosebud" with hints of cinnamon, dark chocolate and berries. TAF also offers exciting single estate selections from around the globe that change every week.
For many coffee aficionados, this unassuming joint is at once the smallest, cheapest, and best espresso bar in Athens. It’s owned by three jolly pals who spend their day standing behind a gleaming coffee machine with their backs to the window, frantically grinding, brewing and serving doubleshot espressos in oversized cups, which make their elixir seem even more concentrated. Great stuff at great prices, too. Stand outside in the stoa (Athenian arcade) and rub shoulders with lawyers, jewellers, and politicians who stop here for their coffee fix. This place is very popular, but the caffeine hit is worth the wait.
A relaxed wine bar with a reliable lunch menu, Warehouse is also a place to enjoy a wonderful brew. The owners have their private roastery not far from here and are passionate about quality coffee. We recommend the cold espresso because that’s what you’ll get: a delicious, potent iced kick without too much water or ice. Sit outside on the pedestrian street and feel the vibe of Exarchia, a youthful, battered, arty and at times, caustically political area in the heart of the city.
A charming place to enjoy a Greek coffee while playing chess or watching the next table at the game: this is what everyone does here all day at this bastion of old Athens. If you haven’t tried Greek coffee before, make sure to specify if you take it sweet when you order, as the sugar goes straight in during preparation. Also, be careful not to burn your lips at the first sip, as the brew is literally boiled on the gas stove. Finally, don’t get carried away and drink the sediment that lies in the bottom of your cup. It looks—and tastes—quite muddy.
Sit outside and sip your frappé at this classic 90s café.
Courtesy: Skipper’s Bar
I guess we had to include a place for frappé, for old times sake. A cool yachtsman’s dive as the name indicates, Skipper’s hasn’t changed much since the 90s, so you will get a genuine feel of what coffee culture was like back then. It’s unfussy and unpretentious. Come to sit back and watch the rocking of the boats on Alimos marina. Relax, practice your straw gyration to keep the froth creamy, and sip your coffee slowly—for at least an hour, if you can spare it— to enter frappé zen. Feeling crazy? Add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream to your frothy friend (a very 90s—no, 80s!—thing to do).