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We spent a month drinking specialty coffee at the best Athens cafes and returned to do it again. Learn about the city’s coffee renaissance and discover the best Athens coffee shops for drinking flat whites and cappuccinos.
True confession: We love traditional Greek food but we don’t like traditional Greek coffee – it’s strong, muddy and filled with low-quality grinds. Luckily for us, Greece is experiencing a coffee renaissance.
Prior to our initial visit to Greece in 2018, we had serious doubts about the coffee situation in Athens. After all, the city is famous for the Acropolis and souvlaki, not for flat whites and cappuccinos. After discovering a handful of cafes serving specialty coffee, we suspected that the coffee scene might be percolating but it could have gone either way.
Returning to Athens three years later sent both caffeine and shock waves through our veins.
The city’s transition from coffee’s first wave to its third and current level has been truly transformative. Not only are numerous new shops roasting and crafting the kind of coffee we crave, but old-line Athens coffee companies have joined the party with a vengeance.
Over a decade or two but seemingly overnight, the younger generation has revolutionized the ways stalwart companies like Mokka Specialty Coffee and Samba Coffee Roasters (see both below) are doing business. As a result, more and more Athenians are choosing to drink coffee crafted with single-sourced beans and modern extraction methods.
Athens’ new coffee culture is a reflection of the kind of youthful vitality that intrepid travelers can discover in the ancient city’s bold street art and emerging restaurant scene. This is a city where baristas don’t hesitate to add a local twist to coffee’s global reach with ingredients like honey and in variations of Greece’s popular freddo iced coffee preparation.
It’s also a city where everything old, including coffee, is new again. It’s a fun element that makes Athens one of the most underrated coffee cities in all of Europe.
Our Favorite Athens Coffee Shops
Gone are the days when traditional Greek coffee was the only coffee available in Athens. No longer a black hole for lightly roasted single-origin beans, the city has joined coffee’s third wave and isn’t looking back.
It’s true. While Greece’s original coffee style remains readily available with its strong, rich brew, many coffee shops are choosing to craft coffee with a Chemex or Aeropress instead of a Briki. These coffee shops are starting new traditions that complement centuries-old rituals surrounding the act of drinking coffee in Greece. And, in many cases, they’re roasting their own beans or sourcing beans from local roasters.
We get that you may feel torn about what kind of coffee to drink when you visit Athens. We say try a cup of traditional coffee and see if you can drink it without choking on the grinds at the bottom of the cup.
If you’re like us, one muddy cup will be enough.
When you’re ready to travel back to the 21st century, check out the following Athens cafes that craft and serve top notch cups of coffee.
Away from the maddening crowds, taf is just a short walk from touristic Monastiraki. Once you make that walk, you’ll find a small coffee shop that brews and packages its own beans.
You’ll also find a great spot to take a break and enjoy excellent coffee.
No flash in the pan, taf has been open since 2009. This leader in the Athens coffee scene offers a variety of beans sourced from Africa and Central America which customers enjoy in various coffee drinks from flat whites to cappuccinos.
If you love taf’s beans, you can buy some to enjoy later in Athens or you can buy bags in global cities like London, Singapore and Milan. You can also drink taf coffee in Santorini while exploring the Greek isles.
Grab some souvlaki at Lefteris O Politis before or after you get your coffee at taf. This excellent Athens souvlaki shop is just a five-minute walk from taf.
taf coffee shop is located at Emmanouil Mpenaki 7, Athina 106 78, Greece.
Samba Coffee Roasters
The fact that Samba Coffee Roasters has been roasting coffee since 1979 is no secret – the Athens roastery proudly displays its birth year on its mugs. But, thanks to the company’s younger generation, Samba Coffee Roasters is one of the most innovative coffee companies in Athens.
In recent years, Samba has exchanged old school techniques for a more modern way of roasting coffee. The company also opened a state of the art cafe in 2020.
Samba’s innovative approach to coffee is readily apparent to all who approach the cafe and encounter a gleaming AREMDE Nexus One espresso machine imported from Australia. Without a doubt, the sleek, hollow squircle-shaped machine is a show stopper that produces a product to match. However, the primary reason to visit Samba is its coffee.
The cafe separates its brews into four categories – black, white, cold and competition coffees. You may be tempted to skip Samba’s competition coffees based on prices that are double or triple the other options. Don’t do it. After tasting both options, we wholeheartedly recommend the splurge based on flavors that include tropical fruit, blueberries, cherries and rum.
Chat with one of Samba’s award-winning baristas if you’re not sure what to order.
Samba Coffee Roasters has a cafe located at Solonos 36, Athina 106 73, Greece.
Handpickers Coffee Roasters
Located in the residential Tavros district, Handpickers Coffee Roasters isn’t near tourist sites like the Parthenon. However, it’s just a short metro ride away from those sites and most of the city’s hotels.
Transportation to Handpickers Coffee Roasters
Our M1 metro ride from The Stanley hotel took less than a half hour and cost us €1.40 each. Other transportation options include a 46 minute walk or a 12 minute drive.
The Handpickers Coffee Roasters team sources and roasts beans which they sell at the coffee shop and online. However, they don’t actually pick any beans. The Handpickers name is an homage to the workers who do that thankless task in the field.
Alexandros Founis opened Handpickers in 2017 and his brother Stefanos works the barista station crafting lattes and pour overs. The cafe has outdoor tables which is where we enjoyed our coffee drinks. Takeaway prices are a bit lower for those who are in a rush or don’t want to linger.
Handpickers Coffee Roasters is a great spot to grab a coffee on the way to Athens’ Pireaus port.
Handpickers Coffee Roasters is located at Anaxagora 45, Tavros 177 78, Greece.
Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies
Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies literally translates to two sips and two bites. We went beyond that concept by finishing every sip and bite at the quirky cafe.
Operated by Nikos and Tânia Anemos since 2016, Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies crafts coffee with Roller Roasters beans (subject to change) and serves a menu of food that includes Greek yogurt and a range of sandwiches and desserts. Prices at this Athens cafe are reasonable and the atmosphere is chill.
Tânia, an award-winning barista, crafts the coffee and Nikos takes care of the food. On our visit we enjoyed flat whites crafted with Ecuadorian beans and a special filtered coffee with Honduran beans and excellent honey. We were in Greece after all.
While the cafe’s espresso shots impressed us most with their tropical lemon flavor, we also enjoyed the cafe’s pulled pork burger topped with egg and sheep milk feta. In fact, we enjoyed the sandwich so much that we later chowed down at Po’ Boys BBQ where the meat was prepared.
Start your morning with coffee and yogurt at Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies. However, don’t feel obligated to limit yourself to two sips and two bites.
Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies is located at Dragatsaniou 8, Athina 105 59, Greece.
Mokka Specialty Coffee
Mokka Specialty Coffee didn’t always specialize in specialty coffee. How could it? This Athens coffee company was founded in 1923, decades before third wave coffee (or second wave coffee for that matter) was a thing.
The company renovated its original building near Athens’ impressive central market in 1999. More recently, the old-line coffee company has embraced artisan single-source arabica beans that it sources from partner producers in countries like Brazil, Costa Rico, Ethiopia and Guatemala. The company has also started serving pour overs and craft coffee at its next door cafe.
Not only does Mokka’s cafe serve flat whites and filtered coffees crafted with arabica beans from countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, but it also serves thick-as-mud traditional Greek coffee made with those same beans. It’s an interesting twist and one that we dig. We also dig that the cafe serves cookies with its coffee.
Pair your visit to Mokka Specialty Coffee with a visit to Athens’ central market.
Mokka Specialty Coffee is located at Athinas 44, Athina 105 51, Greece.
The Underdog started roasting coffee in 2011 before specialty coffee was popular in Athens. Those days are over and so is The Underdog’s status as… wait for it… an underdog.
No longer a startup roaster, The Underdog opened its multi-store cafe in 2015 and now employs champion baristas and mixologists. The cafe is a great spot to sip coffee or a cocktail. It’s also a great spot to chow down.
During our visit, we nabbed a spot on the cafe’s expansive terrace and promptly ordered two drinks – a flat white and a freddo cappuccino. While our flat white was text book, the icy freddo cappuccino, topped with frothy milk, was the standout . We don’t know why this iced drink isn’t more popular outside of Greece but we’re happy to drink it whenever we’re in Greek cities like Athens and Thesoliniki.
We also ordered two dishes – Greek Yogurt with granola, honey and cinnamon and Pancakes with lemon curd, dried blueberries and almond brittle. Considering that we cleaned both plates, it’s fair to say that this underdog is an over achiever.
Foyer Espresso Bar
Foyer is an urban espresso bar run by coffee enthusiasts for coffee enthusiasts.
Open every day, the cafe serves coffee drinks crafted with Brazilian beans that it roasts locally as well as other beans that it sources from a rotating list of Europeans roasters. During our visit, the guest roasters were Sweden’s Koppi and Belgium’s MOK.
The attentions to details are hard to miss at this cafe. Not only does Foyer use a second grinder for its guest coffees, but it also sells a curated collection of books and coffee equipment.
We appreciated these details as we sipped our flat white and latte while chilling at an outside table. After all, we’re coffee enthusiasts too.
Beauty Killed the Beast
At first glance, Beauty Killed the Beast looks like it could be a case of style over substance. The Keramikos cafe has funky decor, a large outdoor dining area and a long inside bar. It’s a hip cafe that attracts an equally hip clientele.
However, unlike the way that video killed the radio star, this beauty of a cafe didn’t kill the cooks or the baristas. We know this because our crafted coffee drinks paired well with the cafe’s decadent Monte Christo-like stuffed french toast brioche with ham, gruyere and honey syrup that we shared.
During our mid-morning visit, we enjoyed two coffees crafted with Brazilian beans sourced from local Wisecup Coffee Roasters. We also enjoyed the front row view of the cafe’s skilled bartenders so much that we ordered a post breakfast drink – a signature Beauty Killed the Zombie cocktail.
With a blend of rums, homemade falernum syrup, spices, grapefruit, tonga, hibiscus and lime, the pink beauty was a strong yet sweet beast. In other words, we loved it,
Don’t feel like you have to choose between coffee and cocktails. We say order both!
Beauty Killed the Beast is located at Paramithias 14, Athina 104 35, Greece.
Peek a Bloom
A cool, shady alleyway location adorned with potted plants makes Peek a Bloom a popular choice for both tourists and locals.
Roasting its beans onsite, the Syntagma coffee shop serves crafted espresso drinks as well as filtered coffee drinks. The vibe is great as is the coffee.
This cafe also has a food menu that compares favorably with menus at many Athens restaurants. The menu features breakfast and lunch favorites like quinoa salad, eggs benedict and a unique pastrami sandwich flavored with chili jalapeño mayo.
Peek a Bloom is located down an alley from a couple other adjacent cafes. Be careful that you don’t go to the wrong coffee shop by mistake.
Peek a Bloom is located at Lekka 14, Athina 105 62
Kudu Coffee Roasters
We stumbled upon Kudu Coffee Roasters while walking around the Gazi neighborhood. Before long, we were sitting in the shi-shi coffee shop and enjoying an iced latte.
The thoroughly modern coffee shop prepares coffee using the latest extraction methods and offers cupping and brewing classes for its customers. Serious coffee drinkers can take an 18-hour barista workshop at Kudu.
Additional Athens Cafes
The Athens specialty coffee scene is expanding with new cafes opening every year. After you drink coffee at our favorite spots, check out some or all of the following Athens cafes to find your favorites:
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.