Anatomy of a Frappé

Anatomy of a Frappé

Frappé lifts moods, stimulates conversation, announces your connection to a lifestyle unique to Greece, and connects you to it when you’re away. Now in its sixtieth year, it is nothing less than a modern Greek elixir, authors of Frappe Nation, Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young, observe.

Anyone who has spent a few minutes at a café in Greece will inform you that the Frappé is so much more than just a national beverage. It is a symbol of idyllic summers in Greece. And coffee drinking is not a rushed affair. The afore-mentioned frappe gurus call them ‘coffee marathoners’ and ‘heroes of restraint’.  “Why so much time for a coffee? In Athens and throughout Greece, communal coffee drinking is a pleasure and passion to be savored slowly – siga-siga  – and in a manner that is cool and relaxed – chalara. A wet, cold antidote to dry, hot summers, the frappé is an elixir that lasts. The foam endures as long as the sipper wants it to. Making time for frappé means making time for seeing friends, relaxing, playing tavli (Greek backgammon), gossiping, solving the problems of the world, reading the newspaper, and enjoying the beautiful sights–shapely ones that are 20 years old and sculptured ones that are 2,500 years old.”  Examining the short, frothy history of frappé is an opportunity to reflect on the long, weighty history of the Greeks.

Frappé Nation Facts:

FRAPPE… is a French word for a Greek invention usually made with a Swiss coffee from the Ivory Coast.  The word frappé is French for “hit”, “struck”, or, as applied to drinks like champagne and coffee, “iced”. The brand Nescafé is Swiss, owing its existence and first syllable to Nestlé, Switzerland. The coffee is largely African, with robusta beans cultivated in the Ivory Coast.  

FRAPPE INVENTED IN 1957 AT THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL FAIR.  At the exhibit for the Greek distributor of Nestlé products, sales representative Dimitrios Vakondios grabbed a shaker meant for a cocoa drink, filled it instead with cold water, and shook it vigorously. The unexpected burst of foam spilled onto his business suit, a messy mishap that heralded the birth of frappé

FIRST THING MANY FOREIGNERS SEE WHEN THEY ARRIVE AT ATHENS AIRPORT Even before they reach passport control, travelers are greeted by an long illuminated sign displaying an enticing frappé ad for Nescafé, the instant coffee brand irrevocably linked to frappé.

ONE FRAPPE AS STRONG AS FOUR ESPRESSOS. A single frappé prepared with two level tablespoons of instant coffee may contain over 400 mg of caffeine, making it as potent as four espresso shots.

BIGGEST FRAPPE GREEK MYTH That Lentzos Café in the Pangrati district of Athens adds beaten egg whites to their frappés to make them extra creamy. The assertion is denied by legendary owner Christos Lentzos. His “secret” formula relies only on optimum dosage and “batch” blending techniques.


1) Place 1 rounded teaspoon instant coffee, 1-to-2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons water in a shaker, jar, or drink mixer. Cover and shake well for 30 seconds or, if using a standing or hand-held drink mixer, process for 15 seconds to produce a thick, light-brown foam.

2) Place a few ice cubes in a tall glass. Slowly pour the coffee foam into the glass. Add 1-to-2 tablespoons milk (whole, lowfat or evaporated) and then enough water to fill the glass.

Frappé Nation, by Vivian Constantinopoulos and Daniel Young, is published by Editions Potamos in a single, hardcover, 192-page, bilingual English-Greek edition. 32 euros. To learn more, go to:

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