Greek Nescafe Frappe: Everything You Need to Know, and Where it Came From (Photos)

Greek Nescafe Frappe on a table in a Greek cafe
Here’s a delicious Nescafe Frappe I ordered at a cafe on my vacation in Greece. Keep reading for the awesome story behind it!

How Greece Taught Me To Love Instant Coffee – The Story of Nescafe Frappe

by Darren Oliver

I remember when I tried frappe for the first time. A friend of mine (also a coffee lover) had just returned from a vacation in Greece. During a conversation, out of nowhere, he pulled out a can of instant coffee and said, “I bet you I’ll make you an instant coffee, and you’ll like it.” As a specialty coffee lover used to high-quality, lightly roasted coffee brewed with alternative methods, all I could do was smile with pity. “Okay, a bet on a bag of good coffee,” I replied.

That’s how I lost a bag of coffee, and that’s how I came to know frappe, a type of coffee created in Greece that today has become a staple of many coffee drinks in the best-known chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee. So, being in Greece for the first time, I couldn’t deny myself the specialty of southern Europe. What is frappe, where did it come from and how do you prepare it yourself? Let’s go on this fascinating journey together.

The Story of the Greek Frappe

Rarely can we attribute the authorship of a particular type of coffee to a specific person. A mythical shepherd is responsible for the invention of coffee, there are legends about where cappuccino came from. In the case of frappe, however, it is different. The inventor is known by name – he was a Greek, Dimitris Vakondios, who worked for Nestle.

How did this happen? Well, in 1957 Dimitris was working at a booth at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where a new product was being presented – a children’s drink prepared in seconds using chocolate powder and cold milk shaken in a cocktail shaker. During a break from work, Dimitris wanted to prepare some instant coffee, but he just couldn’t find any hot water. So he mixed it with water and ice cubes and shook it in a shaker. Little did he know that in that exact moment, he created what would come to be known as the national coffee of Greece.

The coffee he created was unique. Its texture, along with the foam that decorated it, won the hearts of the Greeks. Combined with Nestle’s intensive marketing campaign, the coffee known as “Nescafe frappe” made its permanent mark on coffee culture.

However, it should be noted at this point – Dimitris Vakondios never received any payment for his invention. So it is worth at least honoring the memory of this groundbreaking coffee innovator.

Holding a Greek Nescafe Frappe
If you’re in Greece, be sure to order one of these. I recommend trying a “medium” to start with!

What Makes Frappe Unique?

What makes frappe a unique type of coffee? First of all, it’s its unique creamy texture and extraordinary refreshing properties. And the whole thing is decorated with a stiff, coffee-like foam (not to be confused with crema, that appears on espresso) – the trademark of frappe. The froth stays on the surface of the brew much longer, thanks to its low oil content of instant coffee.

When ordering a frappe in Greece, you will most often be met with the question: “Medium?”. This is because the classic frappe nearly always has added sugar. In Greece, three levels of sweetness are used: “plain,” meaning no added sugar, “medium,” meaning two teaspoons of sugar, and “sweet,” meaning four teaspoons of sugar. Don’t be surprised, that if you do not specify the amount of sugar, the natural thing for a barista is to give you a “medium” frappe! 

Interestingly, frappe functions in two versions – without milk, as well as with its addition. With the latter option, condensed milk is often used.

And if you ever come to Greece, be careful to order frappe – if you ask for iced coffee, you will very likely be given “cappuccino fredo” (cold cappuccino), another cold coffee drink popular in Greece. Cappuccino fredo is sometimes thought to be a higher quality version of frappe, as it is made with freshly brewed coffee, but in my opinion, these two form two separate worlds, and should not be put in the same category.

How To Prepare Frappe

You may be wondering how to prepare a frappe yourself. Nothing simpler – all you need is instant coffee, sugar, and water. To prepare it you will also need a milk frother, a milkshake machine, or a bar shaker. Just add coffee and sugar to a little bit of water, then shake/froth until creamy, and pour into a glass filled with ice and water or milk, then pour the coffee foam into the glass. Then, it is ready to drink! The only thing you need to be careful about is to always use a straw that reaches the bottom of the glass, otherwise, you might taste the foam itself. Let me tell you, that it is not a pleasant experience, as the foam is bitter and bad tasting.

Be Open-Minded and Try Frappe!

The frappe phenomenon is something that can only be fully understood when sitting in a Greek cafe, sipping this amazing drink that helps refresh you during the heat. I highly recommend everyone to try to recreate this experience at home – after all, preparing a frappe is child’s play.

My love for this foamy, sweet, and delicious coffee beverage has taught me one thing – to approach coffee with an open head and not to be afraid of new experiences. After all, you don’t always have to drink only the highest quality specialty coffee. Sometimes you can just indulge in an instant coffee-based guilty pleasure.

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