RG at Home: Greek Frappe for Coffee Snobs

I love me a Greek frappe. When I explain this drink to people, though, it often gives them pause. That’s because the secret ingredient is Nescafe.

beach frappe
Miss June in the 2012 Frappe-Hotties Calendar. Turn-ons: home movies, nude beaches; turn-offs: poorly preserved film, weak straws

In today’s militant-foodie climate, saying you drink Nescafe is like saying you eat Rainbo bread, and not in a guilty-pleasure-reminds-of-my-latchkey-kid-days way. Still, I take perverse joy in bending Nescafe to my will, and I thank the Greeks forever for thinking up this brilliant drink, which is nothing more than a spoonful of instant coffee furiously mixed up with a little cold water, plus optional sugar and milk; ice and straw mandatory.

But, fine, I understand some people are too good for Nescafe. Or they hear the word and can only think of the evils Nestle has perpetrated in the developing world, which is a fair point.

And it’s those people I thought of yesterday when I discovered an amazing thing: you can use regular, real, good coffee to make a frappe!

Let me first explain why this took so long. In this house, we came to coffee snobbery late. In winter, we drank Turkish coffee. In summer, we drank frappes. We were at one with our Astoria ecosystem.

Our standard frappe kit: Greek-made Nescafe, sugar and battery-operated "frappediser", available at Greek groceries everywhere

Then fancy-pants coffee crept in. Next thing you know, we’re sucking down the shade-grown-whatever, in vast quantities, making vintage thermoses full every day.

In anticipation of hot weather, I ordered the Toddy, on the recommendation of the hilarious and talented Hilah Cooking. We now had fancy-pants cold coffee concentrate in the fridge. Great iced coffee, but no foam. And where is the fun of drinking cold coffee, if there’s no reason to stick a straw in it?

Yesterday, Day 2 of Toddy Era (TE), I stirred my coffee extra vigorously, and noticed a bunch of bubbles formed. Not foam, but…bubbles. I was surprised. I’d always assumed the reason Nescafe foamed up when you shook it with cold water was due to the Nescafe itself, maybe the blood of malnourished African babies they put it in or something.

But here was very good and perfectly ethical coffee forming bubbles too. I quick pulled out our frappe whizzer and went to work.

Frappediser in action

Et voila. The foam appeared. I dropped in ice cubes, more cold water and milk…and then stuck in a straw, and all was good.

Mr. July in the 2012 Frappe-Hotties Calendar

The problem is, of course, it doesn’t taste like a frappe. It tastes like real coffee. Which to someone new to this whole frappe game is not a problem. But to someone weaned on the authentic Greek taste, it’s a little hard to adjust.

Today was Day 2 of the Toddy Frappe Era (TFE), and it’s getting easier. The new fancy-coffee overlords may have won.

...Or have they?!

(Don’t let me put you off real Greek frappe, with Nescafe. It’s fantastic. BUT you have to use made-in-Greece Nescafe, which tastes far better than ‘Merican recipe, or at least a Euro-brand instant espresso. It does foam up a little bit better and sturdier, so you can do it just by shaking Nescafe, sugar and cold water really hard in a jar with a lid on–no frappediser needed.)


  1. MM Pack says:

    You’ve created a total Proustian madeleine memory for me–cold Nescafe with milk and sugar on Samos in the early 70s. I’m wallowing in nostalgia.

Comments are closed.