A Kafenion is the local village gathering place
and a traditional refuge of the Greek male - the nearest thing to a Greek 'pub'.
Each village will have at least one or two. They
are usually close to the village square and are easily identifiable as there
will be a few old broken chairs outside and a couple of tables. Although a coffee shop, you will
also find many drinking ouzo, brandy, beer and soft
drinks and sometimes sell a few essential groceries. Some Kafenions will offer a mezze with your drink - this at the very least will be, a few olives and a little feta cheese to a whole assortment of local dishes. The refreshments and mezzes, however are almost incidental to the proceedings, which can vary from gossip to political discussion
and talk how they would put the world to right,
from gentle musing to a game of tavli (backgammon).
During a visit to Corfu, you must take time to visit your nearest Kafenion and the locals! - tourists are always made welcome. Pop in for a beer or an ouzo and you may even be given a small Mezzay of local cheese and olives.
Incidentally, have you ever seen a letterbox where you have stayed in Corfu?
No! Well all the mail for the village is left at the Kafenion - not posted
to each house. If you prefer though, the postman will leave it at the Petrol
Other services offered by the local Kafenions:
Gas - yes they always have a couple of 'calor' type gas
bottles around the back.
Blood pressure - I was in there last week, and our
local baker was our testing everyone's blood pressure!
Pension. The postman brings the pension at the
beginning of the month. The local elderly queue outside while he counts out
the cash to each entitled person. On one occasion, just as I went in for
bread, he called me over and asked if I could take 300 Euros to Olga in Agni
bay - as she had not arrived yet to collect it. it is great to live in such
an honest society.
Loustri - about Agni bay:
This is our local Kafenion,
and where I go
every morning for a Greek coffee and to collect the
bread. It is also the
local bakery and corner shop - you must try their homemade feta cheese.
Kendroma - between Kalami and Nissaki:
The parents of
Alex (our waiter) run this interesting little Kafenion. It is positioned on
probably the worst hairpin bend on the island. Sitting there enjoying a beer
is like having a television in front of you - with the entertaining driving
antics of the passing tourists! The
bend needs 2nd gear - most try and take it in 4th!
Corfu Town- 33 St Spyridon Street (opposite Church):
Harry and Maraika are the owners/proprietors. They speak very little
English - but are a fabulous couple - these also sell the local ginger beer!
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Greek coffee is very similar to that other countries coffee - which I cannot mention! The coffee is a think muddy mixture served in a small cup (an espresso sized one.) Contrary to what many visitors expect, it is is not exceptionally strong and tastes rather good. I always have one at 10am and another after lunch. Do not do the typical tourist thing and try to drink the whole lot! - leave the mud at the bottom in the cup
- not stuck to your teeth! When ordering the coffee, you need to stipulate how much sugar you require:
A 'med-rio' (a normal or medium one) - has one sugar.
A 'glyko' (sweet) - has two or more sugars.
A 'sketo' (without) - no sugar.
(Many people confuse this with the strength of the coffee and incorrectly order a medium strength coffee with no sugar.)
To order a medium Greek coffee you would say:
'Ena Elini-ko med-rio parakalo'
How To Make a Greek Coffee
On clean Monday, Lynn made her first Greek coffee - this is how:
First take a Greek Coffee saucepan - this is a small stainless or copper utensil with a long handle (to stop you burning your fingers). Place on a small electric ring or preferably a 'camping gas' type burner.
Fill a Greek coffee cup with water - 3/4 full and poor into coffee saucepan. Then add one heaped teaspoon of Greek coffee powder. If sugar is required then add the appropriate amount.
On a low heat, stir. Once all the powder has dissolved - stop stirring - but leave on the heat.
After a short while, the
coffee will start to froth - as it boils. Just as the froth reaches the top, remove from the heat.
Slowly pour into the cup - the light frothy part of the coffee should float on the top.