The Surprising Secret Ingredient in Greek Coffee Frappés

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Andrea Lynn)

I’ll admit it, I was a bit of a coffee snob. So it never occurred to me that instant coffee might actually, actually be the secret of some of the best coffee drinks on the planet.

(Image credit: Andrea Lynn)

While working on my cookbook (and culinary guide to Queens), I learned that instant coffee was the secret to making Greek frappés. Hailed as the national coffee of Greece, the frappé is a frothy concoction of coffee granulates and water, made foamy thanks to a frappé machine.

The drink can’t be replicated exactly without the machine, but you can come close by putting the drink into a container and shaking it — a lot! I drink this all summer long.

How to make Greek coffee frappés: In a 2-cup Mason jar or another securely lidded container, mix 1 tablespoon Nescafé Taster’s Choice Instant Coffee, 1/2 cup water, sugar or simple syrup as needed, and 3 to 4 ice cubes. Tighten lid, and shake, shake, shake until the ice cubes are mostly dissolved. Pour into an 8-ounce glass, and serve. Stir in milk, if desired. (The milk must be added last since it deflates a bit of the frothiness of the drink.)

When shopping for instant coffee, which I suggest you do, now that you know how to make this good stuff, note that the Greek Nescafé Taster’s Choice is stronger than its American counterpart. Also restaurants suggested using South African Nescafé, which also has a more robust feel. (I use the American one because that’s what I can find.)

Bonus tip: If you’re a fan of the New Orleans’ chicory-coffee blend from Café du Monde, outside of finding it in New Orleans, look for it at Asian grocery stores. It’s the best mimic of the bitter-strong coffee made in Vietnam and used by many Vietnamese in the U.S.

Cooking Secrets from Immigrant Kitchens

While working on my latest cookbook, Queens: A Culinary Passport, I chatted with cooks and chefs from diverse ethnic backgrounds (Himalayan, Cuban, Cypriot, Szechuan and more). As I learned how to replicate their dishes in my own kitchen, I amassed a slew of tips from them that I began using in my everyday cooking life.