Steve Woods

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From Greece to Starbucks: The Origins of Frappé

In Uncategorized on October 7, 2009 at 9:29 am
Nescafe-based Greek Frappé

Nescafe-based Greek Frappé

Today is Frappé Day. Most of us have tried a version of one.  Some of you may not admit it enjoying such a pretty drink…  A frappé is simply a cold and/or blended drink, typically including ice or ice cream, and a variety of other ingredients to taste, including coffee, vanilla, or a syrup.  If you have not gone to a Starbucks or one of their hanging-on-to-dear-life local competitors and ordered an iced coffee, blended coffee or frappuccino, you are simply missing out on one of society’s shared sinful pleasures.  Don’t like coffee?  Then ask that barista you flirt with to hand you a green tea blend…

How did we come to fall in love with our blended ice coffees, anyway?

Introduction of the Frappé

Over 52 years ago at the International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki, Greece,  Nestle representative Yannis Dritsas was showing off a new instant chocolate milk mix.  People were enamored with the concept of adding a magical powder to milk, and shaking it up to instantly produce shouts of glee from their kids. During the course of the Fair, Yannis’ assistant Dimitris Vakondios, needing a pick-me-up, decided to make some instant coffee.  Hot water was nowhere to be found, so Dimitris  mixed the coffee mix with cold water and ice, and borrowed the shaker.  An instant hit was born.

Today’s Frappés

Ah, the perfect bubbly foam...right?

Ah, the perfect bubbly foam...right?

Today, Café Frappés are the national drink of Greece, in almost every coffee shop, and has been the subject of popular books.  There is a science involved with making a decent frappé, down to the proper techniques to create the perfect sized bubbles in the foamy top.

You can get a café frappé in varying degrees of sweetness, depending on how much sugar and coffee you want in the drink.  Glykos (sweet) typically means 2 teaspoons of instant coffee and 4 teaspoons of sugar.  Metrios (medium) means an equal measure of 2 teaspoons of coffee and 2 teaspoons of sugar, and Sketos (plain), meaning 2 teaspoons of instant coffee but no sugar.  To create a Frapogolo (frappé-milk) you can ask for the addition of evaporated milk to the mix.

To spice things up a bit, various liquers, chocolate milk, or vanilla ice cream can be added.  Starting to sound pretty good… Kahlúa anyone?

National variations on the Frappé

The frappé (and its die-hard fans) moved across Europe, from Greece to Cyprus, then Albania, Macedonia, across Asia, Turkey, and many Eastern Bloc nations, all of whom added their special twist on the drink.  Bulgarians have tried adding Coca-Cola rather than water, and in Denmark milk is typically used as a base rather than water.  Americans tend to like the version introduced and made famous by Starbucks, although in the Boston area, a frappé is what they call a very thick milkshake (no coffee.).  In France, a frappé is a milkshake-like concoction of milk or fruit juices.

Frappé is pronounced Frap. Rhymes with Rap. They liked that concept…

A Date (yes, Date) Frappuccino

A Date (yes, Date) Frappuccino

Frappé Recipe

According to to make a great Greek frappé, place 2 teaspoons of instant coffee, sugar to taste, and 3-4 teaspoons of cold water in a blender.  Blend for 10 seconds to get a good foam.  Add ice to a tall glass, and pour out the foamy mix into the glass.  Add a shot of evaporated milk and fill the rest of the way with water.