Greek Coffee at its Finest

Leah Mangold Athens, Greece


June 10, 2017
By Leah Mangold, Arcadia in Greece Summer

It takes Giannis Bratsolias 126 seconds to make my iced coffee. He brings it to me with a smile; one hand holding the blended drink, the other holding a glass of cold water. 

I am the first and only one here in this early morning—at Bar The Way in Pangrati, Athens—and I watch as Bratsolia’s sister appears from downstairs to mop the colorful floor in preparation for the day. She is wearing long jeans and a white t-shirt, as if the hot and sticky temperature is barely warm enough.

I am here on a quest—to see if coffee is as much a part of the Greek morning routine as it is the American. An East Coaster myself, I am well-versed in the delicious potentials of the iced coffee. 

This particular coffee fulfills my wildest dreams. It is a perfect gradient of browns: dark chocolate brown at the bottom, caramel next, a light tan towards the top, and foamy white deliciousness at the rim. I try to drink it slowly to soak it in, but it is so light I consume it all within a minute. 

The airiness of Bratsolia’s coffee isn’t unique; it’s the epitome of the Greek caffeinated drink. When I tell him I’ve only had American coffee, he replies, “You try this and tell me what you think.”

A second customer arrives 13 minutes later, and Bratsolias gets to work making a drink for him before he even says a word; it is remarkably quiet and the regular pulls out a cigarette to smoke as he waits. He doesn’t pay—at least not from what I can tell; the two speak a few words in Greek and I assume he is either family or on some sort of tab system. After this second customer come two more, and soon a steady flow of people begins to filter in. 

Each customer here is quiet, patient, and friendly. They have the same sleepy just-woke-up look as the Americans back home, but there is a relaxed atmosphere that is a stark contrast to the average east coast Dunkin-Donuts.

When I go up to pay, I tell Bratsolia his coffee is delicious. Then I ask if he thinks Greeks can survive without caffeine. He replies, “Our coffee is good.” I smile. That’s answer enough. 

And then I can’t help myself. I spend another 3 euro on a second coffee.  

Leah MangoldLeah is a student at Arcadia University and is blogging from her summer abroad on the Arcadia in Greece, Summer program, in Athens, Greece


Greece Summer