The “Kafenio” | The Cyprus coffee shop

The “Kafenio” or the coffee shop, is an integral part of every village in Cyprus. No Cyprus village can call itself a Cyprus village without a coffee shop i.e. “Kafenio”. The “Kafenio” is usually located in the centre, or in the central square, of the village. Large villages will have more than one “Kafenio” typically all of them would be located in the central square of the village. The “Kafenio” is where all the residents, as well as guests, of the village would gather to drink coffee, chat, play table games such as Tavli (backgammon) or just meet and see other people. The “Kafenio” is also the right place to obtain all the latest news of the village, the country and the whole world for that matter. Of course the “Kafenio” is also the right place to enjoy the traditional Cypriot coffee available in three flavours: “Sketo” which means plain, is without sugar. “Metrio” which means medium, is with one spoon of sugar and “Glyko” which means sweet, is with two spoons of sugar. At the “Kafenio” one would also find other cold and hot beverages as well as alcoholic drinks. In the traditional “Kafenio” one is served beverages mainly made of herbs growing on the mountains such as “spadgia” tea, mint tea and anise tea. Although every one is welcome at the “Kafenio”, in practice it is mostly men who are its frequent visitors. The “Kafenio” is usually open all day for business. Modern times “Kafenio” A few years ago, the Kafenio was a men¬ only place for coffee, a game of cards or backgammon and chatting with friends. Today the drastic changes in coffee culture, although don’t seem to have impressed the elderly who remain faithful to their traditional Kafenio upholding the continuity of an authentic Cypriot culture, have nevertheless ushered in a “modern” type of Kafenio going by the name “Café”. In these modern cafes, one can still order a good old traditional Cypriot coffee, although most young visitors to these joints have developed a taste for the new varieties of coffee offered by the “Starbucks” and the “Costas” of the newer Kafenio generation. There are now many of these cafes spread all over Cyprus. Spending some time in one of these is an essential part of many young Cypriot’s weekly routine. It’s not just the coffee, that draws the clientele to these coffee spots, but rather it is the whole social aspect: meeting & chatting with friends, watching TV on large wall mounted screens, playing a game of backgammon.

So much for the cafes, what about the coffee itself then? A summertime favourite in Cyprus, as well as Greece, is the large, frothy iced coffee, known as “Cafe Frappé” made of instant iced coffee, varying amounts of sugar & milk, shaken together to create the popular foam covered iced coffee. “Cafe Frappé” is also served in three flavours: plain, is without sugar, medium with two spoon of sugar and sweet with four spoons of sugar. Instant coffee, cappuccino, filter coffee, and espresso are also served as well as, of course, the good old traditional Cypriot “Kafes” or coffee.