Showing posts with label Greek coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek coffee. Show all posts

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Time for a coffee?

'Time for a coffee any time soon?' texted one of my girlfriends the other day.  Her question was aptly worded as meeting for a coffee is not a hurried affair here - it takes time. 

Going out for a coffee has become one of our favorite pastimes in this chosen expat life of ours, although, doing it 'the Greek way' was initially one of the most difficult behaviors to wrap our heads around.

Morning coffee at seaside in Stoupa village

We came to this new life bringing our American coffee break habits with us: drink it hot and drink it fast, visit quickly and don't get a parking ticket. So, in Greece we carried that rapid consumption mindset with us, drinking - not sipping - our coffee and observing those around us.  'How can they sit so long over a cup of coffee?' we'd ask ourselves.

Coffee and complimentary cake in the village

Here, the sipping is done so slowly that the coffee can actually cool down before it is finished.  Then you tag on a bit of extra time to drink the glasses of water and nibble the complimentary cookies or cake bits brought with it.

I'd wager that indulging in a coffee over the span of an hour or more, is almost a rite of passage into Greek culture and community. 

This Greek coffee culture is serious business as shown by statistics from the World Coffee Portal: Greeks consume 40,000 tons of coffee a year, 40% of which is consumed outside the home. 

Kalamata coffee stop while running errands

The coffee culture is so pervasive that the Athens Coffee Festival, September 28 - 30, this year is expected to attract some 32,000 aficionados, vendors, and coffee professionals. 

We aren't sure when we morphed into sipping coffee in the appropriately slow manner, but we have become believers in its benefits.

Watching the harbor is a popular coffee activity in Ag. Nikolaos

Here going out for a coffee can be done with groups of people or by oneself. Coffee sippers might open a book and read for an hour or more, join in a game of backgammon, watch the village happenings, visit with friends or simply sit and sip. You might find some looking at their mobile devices, but seldom will you see people bent over computers as you do in a Starbucks in the States.

Watching traffic is a favorite activity while sipping coffee.

No, coffee in our village is a time for watching traffic make its way down our only north-south route through town. And it is always fun to speculate on which big truck might not squeeze past the balconies and awnings. Or we might watch the fishing boats come and go in the harbor. Or we might just visit with friends or with tourists seated at nearby tables or walking past.  

Take a book and leave a book at the local coffee shop.

Sometimes we use the coffee time to select books from the 'take a book, leave a book' shelves available at a number of the cafes in town. This is a particularly nice feature of having coffee out, when living in an area where we don't have libraries or bookstores.

Morning coffee at the Kafenio in our village

And going out for coffee could almost be reasoned to be healthy here because often it is paired with a walk.

Getting to the Coffee

A grove on my way to coffee called out for a photo

For most of the year the weather is conducive to walking to the coffee shop, taverna, or the traditional kafenio. We have versions of them all in the two villages that are walking distance from our Stone House on the Hill. So, when we go for a coffee, we generally get in a two-mile walk. Walking is such a normal activity, done by so many, that we often pass friends and neighbors, and we get in a visit or two as well as exercise. 

On my way home from coffee - the seaside route

Our route takes us through olive groves and along the sea - I never tire of photographing scenes along the way.

A 'friend' on the coffee shop route

We've obviously adapted to this coffee culture as we often chuckle at how easily the mornings 'get away from us' these days when all we've done is to go out for a coffee. 

 And we now understand why some jokingly say that drinking coffee is the National Sport of Greece.

Coffee Pantazi Beach February coffee

That's it from Greece where winter is still hanging on, although the wildflowers have sprouted along our 'coffee route' and spring is just around the corner. We can even sit outside for most of our coffees.  We thank you for the time you've spent sipping coffee with us. We send wishes for your continued safe travels.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Greece ~ Siga, Siga; slowly, slowly . . .

“Slow down, you move too fast,
gotta make the morning last. . .”
                                             -- Paul Simon, The 59th Street Bridge Song
I regularly meet a fellow writer friend for coffee and chitchat when I am in the Pacific Northwest. We schedule it early in the day so as to fit it in to our schedules, which in itself could be a laugh as we are both retired. I mean, really, ‘schedules’ when you are retired??

We never worry about overstaying the 1.5 hour free parking limit where we rendezvous because frankly, we don’t have time to exceed it – there’s always another appointment or commitment that one of us needs to get to.  We sip steaming beverages served in paper cups imprinted with Starbucks logos, giving little attention to our surroundings.
We aren't quite as hurried as others who rush in and ‘grab and go’ –  we can now use our mobile device to order our coffee prior to our arrival at this coffee shop chain. No waiting. In and out and on our way. Who has time to linger?

That rushed approach to both having coffee and living life seems normal, the ‘American way’.

Coffee on the island of Poros, Greece
And, I've come to learn, it is a stark contrast to the Greek approach to meeting for coffee. The difference between the two is nothing short of a cultural caffeine jolt. In Greece meeting for coffee is a long, lingering event, not limited to any particular time of day: morning, afternoon or long into the evening, people come together over coffee. 

PicMonkey Collage
Coffee shop corner in Heraklion, Crete

It has taken a bit of time to adapt to this cultural phenomenon of relaxing and slowing the pace over coffee.  I mean, sitting at a table, long after your cups are empty, sipping a glass of water (that is always provided with the coffee in Greece), just isn’t the norm in the States. Yet, here, it seems almost an insult to the establishment to rapidly consume your beverage and then jump up and leave.

Kafenion in the Greek Peloponnese
This ‘long-linger’ over coffee may have gotten its start at the old style kafenions, those tiny shops where a small group of elderly Greek men visit while sipping their strong-enough-to-put-hair-on-your-chest coffee and downing an ouzo chaser while twirling worry beads. Where ever the tradition began, it is insanely popular at cafes and coffee houses throughout the country.

Maestros café - Kardamyli, Greece
During our early stages in Greece we used that American approach to ‘going out for coffee’ in our village. Sip quickly, check messages on our phones, then be on our way.

Siga, siga, (slowly, slowly) that is changing.  After all, what did we really have to do in Greece that would cause us to rush off from anywhere?  And why is it that ‘busy’ seems the acceptable by-word in the States, but here we are learning contentedness in sitting and smelling, the roses,  the coffee, in this case, and watching the world go by?

Kaefenion - Agios Nikolaos, Peloponnese, Greece
We began slowing our pace one Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago when The Scout and I headed to our nearby village, Agios Nikolaos for coffee ‘at Freda’s’. That means Gregg’s Plateia – a small cafe run by Gregg and his mom Freda.  This popular eatery is an ex pat gathering spot, post office, bus stop, and serves as host site to any number of fund-raisers.

An added bonus is that Freda always has an answer to our questions, of which we usually have a few.

An afternoon at Freda's - siga, siga
As we lingered at our table for nearly two hours sipping a cappuccino and a ‘press’ coffee on that warm afternoon I realized we were conquering the cultural coffee divide. During that time, we browsed through her furniture catalog, picked up books from her mail table that I had ordered from the U.K.'s  Book Depository and purchased oranges from the fruit vendor – never going more than a dozen steps away from the table.

We buy from this fellow as often as possible
We’d visited with a couple of folks who were walking past, waved to others and simply watched others go about their rounds, like our village pappas, making his way to the church around the corner – after he’d made a stop at the coffee shop across the way.

Watching the street scene - Agios Nikolaos, Peloponnese
By lingering, we had a treat as a ‘new’ fishing boat was spotted in the bay and crew were shuttling its catch between the boat and the harbor fish scales. Amazing all the things there are to watch and learn while sipping a cup of coffee – if  you give yourself the time to do it.

PicMonkey Collage
Agios Nikolaos - Peloponnese
Our timing was off that day – even with our lingering – so we didn’t get to watch the bus from Kalamata stop in front of the cafe and deposit passengers prior to threading its way down the village’s main street to its next stop at the other end of town.

The bus comes through town three times a day - Agios Nikolaos
You, who follow our adventures on Facebook, know that one of my most favorite pastimes (and unexplainable) is watching the bus that serves this region crawl through town on its way north or south and then posting FB photos like the one above.

I was glad to learn I wasn’t the only one who enjoys that bus. The photo below was taken on another afternoon coffee outing, when we had new friends who were visiting from the United States join us for an afternoon coffee at another favorite hangout of ours, Molos Bistrot, next to Freda’s. It was the oncoming bus – not the caffeine – that jolted them out of their seats with cameras in hand.

Here comes the bus!
I took the photo below a few years back in a cafe where we sipped coffee during a stay in a village on Crete’s southern coast. Back then, we had a limited amount of time for travels in Greece and wanted to see as much of the country as possible.  The message didn’t ring as clear then as it does these days.


We thank you for being here with us for another serving of Greek tales and hope to see you back again. Until then, safe travels to you and yours.

Linking up this week with:

Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration


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