“The rich scent of my favorite caffeinated beverage sends trickles of pleasure across my skin as I step inside. Is there anything better than coffee? Chocolate maybe and sex ranks very close I suppose.” – A.R. Miller
Some of my most memorable conversations have taken place over a cup of coffee. New ideas and businesses are born. Conversations about life, family, lovers, and politics are shared. I have had friends who got engaged over a cup of coffee. Plus, of course, it’s divine — the magic ingredient that gives you the kick to start your day, that acts as your soul partner on rainy days, and that always gives you the best excuse to pause your frantic lifestyle and relax.
(You’ve guessed right: I am a coffee addict.)
Drinking coffee in Greece is more than just drinking coffee — it is a daily ritual. According to a 2011 research, Greece is ranked 15th among all the countries of the world, consuming annually some 5.5 kilograms of coffee per capita. That’s a lot of coffee for such a small country!
If you are a coffee chain follower, then you’ll be happy to know that Athens has a few Starbucks around the city (the one we prefer is at the heart of the city, near Monastiraki). But of course, if you want something a bit more local and authentic, then check out one of these places for a memorable cup of Joe in the city of Athens.
If you take a walk down Ermou Street, you’ll find many side streets that lead to places for a nice cup of coffee. Among them is a small coffee shop called Chaplin. This place has a wonderful interior design and style, as well as a patio area. You can sit outside and enjoy people-watching as locals pass by along the street and through the busy square. But besides the enjoyable atmosphere, what makes this place so special is that staff is very friendly.
If you want a more exotic location and a slice of greenery in the heart of the city, then visit the “secret garden” at Six Dogs Cafe. This is a an all-day/all-night cultural entertainment centre in the Historic Triangle of Athens. Ever since it opened in 2009, it has been a favourite meeting point for locals. It is open daily from 10am until late at night, with free wifi and, apart from coffee, they serve homemade seasonal drinks, cocktails, and all sorts of delicacies, with friendly prices.
If you want to combine your coffee with a million-dollar view, then visit one of Athens’ many rooftop bars. One of our favourites is Couleur Locale, located in a little laneway (and hard to discover as the entrance is in an arcade) near Monastiraki Square. To find it, enter the arcade gallery with antiques and take the elevator to… heaven. The view of the Parthenon and the Observatory, especially at dusk, is to die for! If you want to accompany your coffee with something more than water, then be sure to order their salty fritters breaded with goat cheese, semolina, and honey.
Almost next door you will find another unique hidden gem: Taf Art Space & Coffee, an amazing café/bar/art gallery. It features a mix of run-down and minimal decor, with an open-air atrium as the main “stage” surrounded by two floors of decrepit rooms as galleries. You’ll get to listen to jazz, blues, and lounge music while enjoying some of the best coffee blends in town. Note that it’s hidden behind a secret old door, so it might take some hunting. But once you walk in, you’ll discover a whole different world.
For something with more Greek colour, walk to one of Athens’ oldest neighbourhoods (and a must-see place while in the city), Plaka. The area of Plaka is situated right under the Acropolis hill and is similar to Quartier Latin in Paris. It is an architectural gem, with many heritage-listed buildings and the only area in Athens where you can see the city as it was 100 years ago. Apart from the picturesque alleys, you can find places with good food, coffee, museums, and galleries. I love sipping my coffee at Yiasemi and watching the people socialising around me.
Last but not least, don’t leave Athens without having a coffee at Mokka Specialty Coffee, one of the oldest coffee shops in Athens (it started serving its divine blends in 1922). The place has been around for almost 100 years, and continues to offer some of the city’s best varieties of coffee blends — and that’s not just my own personal opinion! The shop has won many awards, including one for its Greek blend, used for Mokka’s traditional Greek coffee — once you have ordered, walk inside the shop to see how it’s brewed: the old-fashioned way, in sand. (And to make the experience totally Greek, order a spoon sweet to accompany it!)
Dig in to the ‘big five’ of Greek cuisine in their natural habitat on this Athens food tour: ouzo, feta, olives, olive oil, and koulouri, oh my!