This post is written & directed by Sai Bhatte, Content Creator Intern.
I’d like to start off by saying I was not a big coffee drinker - I would drink around one cup a week just because I love, love, love the taste of coffee. I recently spent a month in Cyprus studying abroad…and to say the country made me a big coffee drinker would be a gross understatement.
Coffee is a gigantic part of Cyprus culture - both my art history professor and photography professor admitted to drinking up to 6 cups a day. In the intense afternoon heat, people grab an ice cold frappé with their friends and chat over one drink for HOURS. Cafes were meant for socialization, not grind seshes like here in the states.
For me, that was my favorite part about Cyprus: the value the people placed on building relationships. As friends sat around leisurely sipping their iced lattes and frappés, no one was checking their phone, no one was in a rush to get to their next meeting, no one was distracted from the conversation at hand. Drinking coffee was a removed break from the rush of life and just a wholesome means of spending time with others and building genuine connections.
That being said, I had the chance to try a bunch of unique drinks, blends, and styles of preparation while I was there and was a constant caffeinated ball of energy. Drinks were influenced both by Greek and Turkish culture - for reasons explained well in this little crash course: https://youtu.be/2fFBCdeDdtU
Here’s the drinks and the places I went.
1) My first cup of coffee abroad
Cold brew isn’t too big in Cyprus. So, when I ordered a black cold brew, my favorite coffee, and they were all out, I was just a tad bit bummed. Instead, they made me an iced drip coffee. It was so good and the staff was so thoughtful, I wasn’t even disappointed.
2) Starbucks in Cyprus
I was talking to a local about coffee culture and was surprised to learn that the Mecca of all college campuses in America is considered bottom tier for coffee - people apparently only go to Starbucks if there aren’t any other options and prefer small, independent cafes. I decided to branch out while I was there and tried the cold brew and lemonade drink they were advertising outside. I was NOT a fan.
These ice cold beauts were my go-to in the scorching weather, be it in a cafe, while on a hike, or while studying at the host university. Made with the instant Nescafé coffee, you can tailor your drink to have different amounts of milk (no milk, a little milk, half milk, or full milk) AND different amounts of sugar (black, half sweet, or sweet). If you want to impress the barista (or embarrass yourself a lil like I did), you can specify the sweetness in Greek: σκέτο (skéto), μέτριο (métrio), or γλύκο (glykó) for increasing levels of sugar.
How it’s made: https://youtu.be/lbmWtPtZIZA
4) Freddo Espresso
My new friend and a local, Vasos, recommended the freddo espresso to me when we got brunch. Freddo literally translates to “cold," so the drink is basically espresso on the rocks. There is also a freddo cappuccino counterpart, but I didn’t have the chance to try that. The freddo espresso had me bouncing off the walls, but it was well worth it.
How it’s made: https://youtu.be/Fq9uLY6iWuE
I tried two types of teas as I tried to keep my newfound caffeine addiction to a minimum - neither was unique to Cyprus, but were interesting enough to have an honorable mention in this post. The colorful tea was a sweet, refreshing orange tea with jasmine and cinnamon. It tasted a bit like a mocktail. The second “tea” was cascara, which is made with the flesh of the coffee cherry after it has been dried. I got the plain, black cascara on ice, which was a bit bitter.
6) Cypriot Coffee / Turkish Coffee
This traditional beverage is hot and served black, with drinkers being able to change the amount of sugar in it. I stuck to my cold beverages, but had to try it at least once while I was in the small village of Kakopetria. I was forewarned of the bitter grounds at the bottom of the beverage, but being me, had to try the gross grounds anyways. 0/10. Do not recommend doing that.
How it’s made: https://youtu.be/UghjdGRhCPE
7) Cold brew
My trip had to come full circle, as the last beverage I drank on the island was the first one I sought out - I finally found the smooth, black cold brew I had been craving at a small cafe nearby. I have no idea what half the words on the label said, but I left satisfied.
Ultimately, my time in Cyprus was simply not long enough, but I probably would have over-caffeinated myself had I stayed any longer. It is a beautiful country with both beautiful culture and people.
All I can say is ευχαριστώ, Cyprus. Thank you.