Greek frappé or Nescafé frappé is a foam-covered cold coffee drink made from spray-dried instant coffee. It is very popular in Greece especially during summer but also found in other countries. The instant coffee found in other countries such as the USA is usually freeze-dried, which is in general more flavorful, but whose higher oil content impedes foam formation.
Frappé dates back to the 1957 International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki. The representative of the Nestlé company, Yannis Dritsas, was exhibiting a new product for children, a chocolate beverage produced instantly by mixing it with milk and shaking it in a shaker. Dritsas' employee Dimitris Vakondios was looking for a way to have his usual instant coffee during his break but he could not find any hot water, so he mixed the coffee with cold water and a shaker, creating the first frappé coffee.
This improvised experiment established this popular Greek beverage. Frappé has been marketed chiefly by Nestlé and has been a popular drink in Greece. More recently, Kraft, under the Jacobs label, have launched their own brand of frappé. Frappé has been called the national coffee of Greece, and is available at virtually all cafes, where it is typically served with a glass of water. Frappé is also popular among students and workers since its caffeine content helps to stave off fatigue.
The spray-dried instant coffee contain nearly no oil, just tiny particles (coffee solids), some molecules responsible for flavor and taste, and of course caffeine. When dissolved, spray-dried coffee forms a simpler and more stable colloid relative to traditionally brewed coffee. This enables creation of the characteristic thick frothy layer at the top of the coffee. This layer appears similar to créma, the foam found in espresso, but is much thicker and the composition is different. It can be characterized mainly as a three phase colloid where tiny bubbles are held together by the coffee solids.
The absence of oil (or the significantly lower oil content compared to traditionally brewed coffee) makes the system more stable and the bubbles do not collapse with the same ease as in créma. Soon after the foam is created a process of thickening taking place, where water molecules are constantly pushed out of the frothy mixture. The bubbles come very close together and the foam almost solidifies. This process can take somewhere between 2 to 10 minutes depends strongly on the agitation process during mixing. When almost all the water is pushed out the bubbles have came so close that will slowly start to coalescence and create bigger bubbles.
At this point the presence of oil (a hydrophobic agent) can significantly accelerate the collapsing process, resulting the creation of a lighter foam with average bubble diameter larger than 4 mm. This is the reason it is not possible to make a good frappé in many countries, unless one can find spray-dried coffee (which actually is less expensive). The utilization of a hand mixer makes possible the creation of finer bubbles which increases the time that the foam can last. The best frappé coffees are often held to be those with the smallest bubbles and a thickness of about 1.5 to 2 inches (30 to 50 mm) of foam.
The foam itself has no effect on the coffee's actual taste, and in fact, the drinker generally utilizes a straw to prevent contact with the foam. Still, the foam is now considered an integral part of the frappé, and many people love the texture and the taste of the foamy top. Frappé lovers will not consume the drink without the proper amount of foam present.
Frappé are available in three degrees of sweetness, determined by the amount of sugar used. These include: glykós (γλυκός IPA /ɣli'kos/, sweet, 2 or more teaspoons of sugar); métrios (μέτριος, medium 0.5-1.5 teaspoons of sugar); and a skétos (σκέτος, no sugar). All varieties may be served with milk (me gala με γάλα /'ɣala/), in which case they may be called φραπόγαλο frapógalo (/fra'poɣalo/), or without. Frappé-loving Greeks are often very exacting as to the precise amounts of coffee and sugar they want in their coffee and can raise quite a fuss if the coffee served to them does not seem to comply to what they ordered.
Kahlua or other liqueurs are sometimes used for additional variation, as well as chocolate milk. Many restaurants add a ball of vanila ice-cream into their frappe instead of milk. Though not technically "frappé" (since they are not shaken), some variations are stirred with a spoon, creating a slightly different texture and, according to some, taste.
An iced-coffee called espresso fréddo (or cappuccino fréddo) has also emerged. The difference from frappé in preparation is that it consists of an espresso lungo shaken in a glass full of crushed ice cubes. Capuccino fréddo is served with a topping of milk in a form of a dense froth. Cocoa or cinnamon powder is optionally dusted on the foam, to resemble real cappuccino. Its preparation is sometimes confused with the iced café latte (espresso in iced cold milk but without shaking) that is consumed in the rest of Europe.
Frappé outside Greece
Frappé is also consumed in Cyprus, where the Greek Cypriots have enriched and adopted the frappé into their culture, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Poland and Romania. In recent years Balkan immigrants in Greece have taken frappé to their homelands, where it has been adopted with some differences. In Bulgaria, Coca-cola is sometimes used instead of water (possibly the inspiration for Coca-Cola Blāk), in Denmark, cold milk is often used instead of tap water, and in Serbia, ice-cream is added.
In England the automated Frappe Vending machine for restaurants and cafés was invented by the Greek Cypriot entrepreneur, Nick Anastasiou, who went on to form the Frappé Vending Company. In Italy Nestlé brought the Greek frappé coffee under its Nescafé Red Cup line, with the name Red Cup Iced Coffee. The name frappé is used there for the milkshake (non-fruit flavour, as the latter is called frullato).
In France a frappé is a milkshake beverage produced by mixing milk or fruit juices in a shaker without coffee. In New England, a frappe (there pronounced /fræp/) contains ice cream, and is the equivalent of the American milkshake. In Ireland a frappe is composed of freshly ground coffee, ice, milk and sometimes ice-cream or coffee flavouring such as vanilla or caramel. In 2006 American food critic Daniel Young teamed up with his wife, Vivian Constantinopoulos, to write the coffee-table book Frappe Nation on the subject.
How to make a frappé
A frappé is nothing more complicated than instant coffee, sugar, and a small quantity of cold water shaken vigorously together to produce a thick foam, then poured over ice in a tall glass, and finally topped off with milk or water. That basic formula gets muddled not only by personal habits but also by the homespun guidelines passed on by its practitioners. Coffee and sugar are mixed by the heaping spoonful, without specifying the size of the spoon and the heap, rather than by grams or level measuring spoons. Water is dosed by finger width, without specifying whose finger, as in “pour two fingers of water into the shaker.”
It may therefore be best to describe the frappé formula in terms of volume proportions. A gliko (“sweet”) frappé, for example, is typically made with between 1 1/2 and 2 measures of sugar per 1 measure of coffee. To prepare a metrio (“medium sweet”), up to 1 measure of sugar should be mixed with 1 measure of coffee. In general, the more concentrated the coffee solution the stiffer the foam. The ideal ratio for a thick, creamy frappé foam is about 1 part instant coffee per 4-5 parts water. If working in spoonfuls, 1 level spoonful of coffee would call for 4-5 level spoonfuls of water.
The following recipe should be viewed as a beginning and not an end. Frappé newcomers should use it as a departure point, making adjustments according to their own tastes and moods.
Makes 1 serving
2 teaspoons instant coffee,
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1-2 tablespoons evaporated milk or regular milk, optional
1. Place the coffee, sugar to taste, and 1/4 cupwater in a shaker, jar, or drink mixer. Cover and shake well for 30 seconds or, if using a standing or hand-held drink mixer, process for 10 seconds to produce a thick, light-brown foam.
2. Place a few ice cubes in a tall glass. Slowly pour the coffee foam into the glass. Add a little milk, if desired, according to taste. Fill with cold water until the foam reaches the top of the glass. Serve with a thin, bendable straw and glass of cold water on the side.