Nescafé Frappé: The Original Greek Iced Coffee Turns 60

The true story behind the legendary iced coffee: how it was invented in Greece, became an integral part of the Greek summer and how to enjoy one like a local.

Long before iced lattes, freddo capuccinos and frozen moca-latta-whatevers, there was only one: the Nescafé Frappé, the archetypal Greek iced coffee.

For decades, locals and visitors alike have associated the Greek summer with the iconic, frothy ice-cold coffee. To this day it remains the most ubiquitously served coffee drink in the country, available everywhere from the humblest tavernas to the most high-end cafes (you can even pick up a do-it-yourself kit at any kiosk).

In short, if you are not near a frappé, you are probably not in Greece.

But where did this chilled-wonder come from? 60 years ago random chance collided with a stroke of insight and a dose of experimentation, and Greece was changed for ever (or at least the way it drinks coffee).

That moment came during the 1957 Thessaloniki Trade Fair. One hot September day, Dimitris Vakondios, an employee of the Nestlé company, wanted to make his daily cup of Nescafé Classic but was unable to find any hot water. The story may have ended there, but as luck would have it, Nestlé was in the process of demonstrating a new chocolate milk preparation for children that used a shaker. A gleam entered Vakondios’s eye, and during a break he used the shaker to mix up his Nescafé with cold water.

And lo, the frappé was born, and the people of Greece were happy and they rejoiced. And soon the entire country was enjoying frappés, from the highest mountain towns to the remotest island villages.

And then the tourists began to arrive in Greece and they too discovered the joys of this simple iced coffee. And from that warm September day at Thessaloniki’s trade fair, Nescafé Frappé spread around the world.

It’s all about the shaking

Novices should note that a there is more to a frappé than simply adding Nescafé to cold water. The initial shaking / mixing of the coffee with a small amount of water is integral to creating the froth that is characteristic of a frappé.

A frappé without froth is like a soft-drink without the fizz and best not discussed in polite society.

Take Your Time

Greeks are famed for taking their time over coffees and frappés are no exception. So to truly enjoy your frappé like a Greek you need to take it slow, enjoying it over a long discussion with friends, or simply as you relax reading a good book or newspaper from end to end.

Alternatively if your conversation becomes heated, feel free to gesticulate wildly while clutching your frappé (especially when discussing politics or football). This is a very Greek thing to do. Just don’t spill your coffee.

How to make a frappé:

  1.  Add 2 tsp of Nescafé to a suitable container
  2. Add sugar to taste. In Greece that is typically 2 tsps for a metrio (medium) and 3-4tsps for a glyko (sweet).
  3. Add a small amount of cold water and mix. This can either be done by vigorously shaking in a cocktail shaker or using a hand-held mini whisker.
  4. After a light colored froth has been created, pour over ice and add water.
  5. Add milk to taste. Typically Greeks use condensed milk, but fresh is also acceptable.
  6. Sip using a straw and enjoy!

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