No17. Coffee tales

March 5th, 2017

Not surprisingly, even the coffee in Cyprus has an identity crisis.

Depending on where you sit on the island, you will be expected to say either Cypriot coffee or Turkish coffee to mean the same thing. [The citizens of Greece call it Greek coffee, the citizens of Armenia call it Armenian coffee – go figure.]

You can have your coffee in 3 versions – without sugar, with one spoon of sugar (medium) or with two spoons of sugar (sweet). In terms of size, the cups come in Regular and Double. Let the coffee “sit” for a few minutes before you start drinking it, so that the extra coffee settles at the bottom of the cup. Sip slowly and stop once you get to the sediment.

While growing up, I remember that it was an extra treat for me to have a Morning Coffee (brand) biscuit dipped in my mother’s coffee cup while she was having a chat with the neighbor.

This kind of coffee is brewed in a special metal coffee pot (called mpríki in Greek and tjisvés in the Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish common vocabulary). Traditionally, the pot was placed on heated sand (ember) but nowadays fire or electric stoves are used.

The identity crisis of the coffee in Cyprus also extends to the political arena. Depending on your political affiliation, if you live in a village in the Republic of Cyprus (southern part), you might choose to have your daily caffeine dose in the Left-wing or the Right-wing coffee shop of the village. This trend emerged in the mid-late 1940’s, when the Greek Cypriot residents of the island were split between those supporting a nationalistic, Union-with-Greece agenda (right-wing) and those in favor of a more moderate approach that also included the Turkish Cypriots in the future administration of the island (left-wing). The division was extended to many facets of daily life, including football and remains strong until today.

So, depending on which coffee shop you eventually choose, the cup and glasses used to serve your coffee and the accompanying water might also reflect this left-wing vs. right-wing division. Your cup and glass might come from the Laikón Kafekoptíon (Λαϊκό Καφεκοπτείο) or the Kafekoptíon G. Charalambous (Καφεκοπτείον Γ. Χαραλάμπους) respectively.

In any case, sit back, relax and …. to your health (stin eeyá mas – στην υγειά μας)!

Oh, and if you find a person that can read your fortune from your coffee cup after you’re done drinking, don’t let the opportunity pass. At the very least, you will have a laugh with what might come up!

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