The best coffee shops in Athens – Athens by bike suggestions
Coffee shops in Athens are as common as bakeries. You can actually have Greek coffee or any other type of coffee even in bakeries these days! It’s everywhere…in the city, in the suburbs, in villages, on the beach! Coffee has been for many years a big part of our culture. I cannot think of a single morning, important or not, as a child, when my mom did not make her Greek coffee to drink it before starting the day!
“Come on, sit down, let’s have some coffee and talk about it”. That’s one the most common things I can hear from Greeks when I tell them I have a problem. So coffee time here is like therapy time: we sit down and talk about our issues with a friend or a relative for hours. Sometimes the problem is solved and sometimes more problems are created,but, in the meantime, no one is going to tell us to get up and go away from their cafe, even if we stay at one of the local cafes in Athens for 3 hours, having bought just 2 cups of coffee! This is one of the reasons why most coffee shops in Athens and Greece are beautiful and welcoming, it’s not just about competition, it’s also the fact that they expect people to sit down and stay for a lot of time. This is so different from many places I’ve visited abroad, in other countries famous for their strong coffee culture.
In remote areas of Greece, a cafe is called “kafenio” and it’s the epicenter of the village as most men after work go there to spend their whole evening drinking coffee, playing cards and having fun. Some coffee shops in Athens still keep that traditional feeling and it’s something that everyone should experience at least once while visiting Athens.
Greek coffee reading
That can be done only with the traditional Greek coffee and for sure not in one of the common coffee shops in Athens. When I want to experience this, I have to go to a special place, hire a professional or, even better, tell my mom, because she knows someone who knows someone that can read Greek coffee! The process is simple and pretty straightforward and I can tell that by experience:
About 2 months ago I wanted my coffee to be read, so my mom called a lady who “specializes’ in this. After drinking a nice cup of Greek coffee I had to let it rest for 5 minutes. Then the lady crossed it, like an orthodox christian priest would do, with her fingers 3 times. Next step was flipping the cup onto a small plate and, again leaving it to rest for 5 minutes and, of course, the lady did the crossing thing again. Before she flipped it again to be able to see what’s inside the cup she again crossed it like an orthodox christian priest with her fingers 3 times. The whole process seems funny, and trust me, it gets even better! Now, with the cup “painted” with my coffee remains, the great task of reading it began. The lady told me lots of fascinating things about my past, present and future in a way that palm readers are doing it, telling me things I already knew and things I wanted to hear. Being a distant friend of the family the lady actually knew a lot about me and was able to say things that made sense! It’s quite a memorable and hilarious experience and is really worth doing it once in Athens!
Types of coffee
As Greeks, we consume quite a lot of coffee and in different types and forms. Hot or cold, traditional or modern, greek or foreign. Let’s dive into the most popular ones.
The most popular coffee is the traditional Greek coffee. It’s a hot, thick and strong coffee and it is prepared in a special small pot called briki. Every single one of the numerous coffee shops in Athens are offering it. This type of coffee is unfiltered, so when it starts getting too thick, it’s time to stop, as all the coffee mud lies there. I found out the hard way once, as I really needed one more sip. Never again!
Frappe is instant coffee shaken with ice and was invented in Thessaloniki in 1957 by accident. It used to be the most popular cold coffee type in Greece until the early 2000’s. Several local cafes in Athens claimed to have a “secret” recipe for making it better and that created a hype for it! Although it is not as popular as it used to be, many of my friends still ask for this type of coffee as, depending on how you make it, it can be the strongest one of them all!
Freddo cappuccino and Freddo espresso are now the most famous Greek iced coffees since the early 2000’s. The mix consists of a double espresso dose, ice, sugar (optional) and milk foam for the Freddo cappuccino. One can easily get addicted to drinking this type of coffee, as it’s refreshing and it cools you down during a hot summer day! All coffee shops in Athens have it as an option and most people going around with a cup of coffee in their hand, are having this one!
Although there are coffee shops in Athens pretty much everywhere, there are some neighborhoods that stand out when it comes to enjoying a nice cup of coffee!
The heart of Athens is definitely Monastiraki square. The flea market, the food market, the spice and herb market, the restaurants, the colorful fruit shops, the street musicians and, of course, the cafes. A great morning in Athens for me has it all! Before checking out the beauties of the city center I always go to drink my Greek coffee at one of the great coffee shops in Athens One of the most traditional local cafes in Athens HERE. After enjoying my morning coffee, I usually go shopping in the flea market and then go to the Varvakios market for meat, fish, vegetables or anything else!
The luxurious and prestigious neighborhood on the south side of Lycabettus hill is well known for its famous inhabitants, the expensive brand shops and some of the most iconic coffee shops in Athens that many kings, presidents, artists and important people have drunk their Greek coffee! The coffee in these places is the most expensive you can get in Athens, but it’s really worth it. Whenever I want to feel famous and important, I enjoy my coffee while reading the newspaper in one of the cafes that are around the main square of Kolonaki neighborhood. Nostalgia alert!
The old town of Athens is ideal for enjoying a morning coffee! Numerous local cafes in Athens have survived here for decades and when I sit down at one of them early in the morning for a cup of Greek coffee I am always treated like family! Plaka is pretty quiet in the morning and, generally speaking, coffee shops in Athens are pretty quiet in the morning, so I get all the attention from the owner, some stories from the past and maybe some coffee reading depending on the day.
Thiseion neighborhood is the greatest location to have an afternoon coffee. As the sun goes down Athens transforms, the sunlight hits Acropolis and from this area and I can enjoy a beautiful view! I always take advantage of the great view of Acropolis that most coffee shops in the area offer, either from the street or, even better, from their rooftop! Usually, after I have my coffee, I go with friends to the stunning “cine thision”, a famous open air cinema, to watch a nice movie with an exceptional view! More info about the open air cinema HERE.
Coffee shops in Athens have a lot more to offer than just a cup of greek coffee. You can visit one alone, or we can go together if you join one of our bike tours! Check them out HERE!