Coffee Greek Style

Posted on June 1, 2011


Here I am sat doing what I do best, sitting in a cafe observing, that’s it, I love it but it’s taken a while to get here. You see when it comes down to it I am a Brit and as such it was not really in my nature to enjoy just sitting.

When I came here almost 8 years ago I was drinking the stuff far too fast, 15 minutes tops, the Greeks must have thought I was a complete idiot.  The coffee I am drinking at the moment is a frappe light ( only 1 heaped spoon of coffee ), I have had it for around 50 minutes and it will last probably another 30.

See, I had not figured out before that drinking coffee here is not really about the coffee, it’s more about slowing down for a while, just sitting and being, hanging out.

Oh by the way do you like the graphic at the top ,Vespa Girl ? She reminds me of the first coffee we had in Greece when we came to live here; we had driven through France and Italy and just gotten of the ferry at Patras before stopping for coffee prior to the drive down to the Mani. After the girl served us she made more coffees, jumped on her Vespa and said “if any one comes tell them I will be back in 5″, and with that she sped of, tray in hand, and I knew we had arrived in Greece at last !

A good cafe should be an easy place to be. When I sit at the cafes in Kardamyli I am sometimes joined by people, sometimes they speak and sometimes they don’t, they just sit for company.  Last week I was sitting at a cafe when a Greek friend came and sat down, we said hello then did not speak  for about 20 minutes until  he said ” I like very much when I sit with you Dave, you no make me talk too much”. And I know what he means, when I first arrived I would have been trying to keep the conversation going, not now, we were just content to sit together watching the street.

Nothing much was happening so we had no need to talk, however soon a George arrived with big handfuls of freshly picked wild garlic and proceeded to hand them out. Then a van arrived selling 20 artichokes for 5 euros so we had a discussion about what we could cook with wild garlic  and artichoke. All was peaceful again until a priest stops in a pick up and  in the back there is a baby goat.  As we admire the goat the priest asks us, in turn, if we  if we want to buy it to which we all decline, but I do notice that I was the only one that he told “If you don’t buy it I will have to kill it”, and as he says this he runs a finger across his throat. I check myself  to see if I have a sign saying stupid English person hung around my neck, but there is none. We then have a ten minute argument about which is the tastiest bit of the goat and George wins simply because he is the loudest, and we have to agree in order to get some peace.

After all this excitement, what  with the garlic, the cheap artichokes and the goat priest, it all settled down to just the click of backgammon from a table round the corner, the klack of Georges kombloi, and me turning a page every 5 minutes. That’s the thing with a good cafe, you just sort of zone out, a bit like meditation.  As a kid we had a painting of a little boy sat on a rock, the inscription said “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits”.  So the next time you go for a coffee in Greece try to just sit, I promise you will enjoy it.

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