How do you take your coffee: sketo, metrio or glykos? Mornings in Athens - as across Greece - see Athenians all over the city fuelling up with a caffeine fix. Traditional Greek coffee - thick, dark and bitter, and served with no sugar, one sugar, or two - remains the cornerstone of a morning pick-me-up, although third-wave café culture has taken root in Athens, too. Today, most Athenians have switched their sketo kafés for lattes.
If you're hankering for the real stuff, a trip to an inconspicuous mom-and-pop kafenia (coffeehouse) tucked into a shady plateia (city square) will have you slurping cups with sun-worn octogenarians. Otherwise, a slew of third-wave coffee shops and cafés across the city will keep you caffeinated on strolls between the Parthenon and the Panathenaic Stadium. Here's seven we rate.
The best café and coffee shops in Athens
Philos in Kolonaki plates up veg-dishes alongside coffees.
This shabby chic (or "elegantly wasted" as the team behind it so eloquently suggests) Kolonaki townhouse is a popular lunch spot for well-heeled residents of the upscale neighbourhood. The two-story concept store, café and restaurant offers a curated selection of soft cotton t-shirts, well-crafted leather bags, distinctive teapots and pleasingly chubby Japanese pens to peruse. Make a guess at what the parameters of the loosely-followed, but pleasing, edit might be - well-made objects of us, perhaps? - then head downstairs for egg-based breakfast plates and well-frothed cappuccinos. From here, it's only a quick walk to the city's green oases, the National Gardens and Lycabettus Hill.Solonos 32, Athina 106 73 +30 21 0361 9163 philosathens.com
Athens' vegan and veggie community have found a home at this cheerful café sat on the edge of the Monastiraki and Psyri neighbourhoods. Anäna has an almost cult-like following, with regulars often sporting café merch such as totes and t-shirts as they nab tables in the curved courtyard, or at inviting indoor tables. Single origin bean roasts are used in all coffees, while on a menu of (mostly) plant-based plates, highlights include lemon rolls, coconut yoghurt bowls, and towering toppings of various veggie combinations on toast. Oat and almond milks are available, naturally.Praxitelous 33, 105 60 +30 21 1115 1788 instagram.com/ananacoffeefood
A barista at Samba Coffee Roasters in Kolonaki.
Samba Coffee Roasters, Kolonaki
Sure, you can stick to a one-a-day rule when it comes to coffee, but it's far more fun to join the Athenians and mainline as much as you can. Once you've finished a cup at Philos, take a short stroll down Solonos street to this stylish roastery. Enjoy a cup in the breezy, rattan-lined upstairs mezzanine or grab a seat at the wooden stools beside the streetside hatch, from which you can order a freddo espresso and chat with the knowledgeable baristas. The menu includes pour-over, filter and espresso, with plant-based alternatives for non-dairy drinkers. Don't miss a slice of the basque cheesecake, it's seriously good.Solonos 36, Athina 106 73 +30 21 0363 7283 sambacafe.gr
Saorsa Athens, Metaxourgeio
This breezy backyard of a dilapidated Athenian house on Avdi Square, in the artistic Metaxourgeio neighbourhood, serves as a town square for the area's recent influx of bright young things. Saorsa offers an all-day menu and, while the food is good - dishes include banoffee-topped pancakes, bruschetta and locally-loved loukoumas, or Greek doughnuts available morning, noon and night - it's the drinks that draw in the crowds. Highlights of an extensive selection include herbal mountain teas, various vivid smoothies, and a cocktail and coffee selection longer than the steps leading up to the Acropolis. Keep it simple with a nostalgic Greek favourite: the retro Nescafé Frappé iced coffee.Giatrakou 2, 10435 Athens +30 210 52 35 960 saorsa.gr
Streetside dining at Naif in the Neos Kosmos neighbourhood.
Naif, Neos Kosmos
Enroute to the contemporary arts and culture centre, Onassis Stegi, stop by colourful coffeeshop Naif. Founded by Athens bartender Petros Zisou, who also runs moody cocktail bar Grasshoppers, Naif is located in the up-and-coming Neos Kosmos neighbourhood. Open all day, it serves great coffee, breakfast at any hour and, in the evening, a selection of wines, cocktails, beers, pasta and pizza. Join pre-work regulars (and their dogs) at the yolk-yellow counter at 7:30am to order the Naif holy trinity - baked eggs, fresh fruit juice and an iced cold brew.Leontiou 10, Neos Kosmos, 11745 instagram.com/naifathens
Café Taf HQ, Exarchia
This glass-fronted café a few blocks from Omonia metro station might look inconspicuous but is one of the city's most respected coffeehouses, credited with starting the modern city's coffee craze. Beans sustainably sourced from small-scale growers are used to produce single-origin roasts by the company, which are then whipped up into intensely favoured, award-winning coffées. Order an espresso to go, or a cold brew served in a vintage swing-top glass bottle.Emmanouil Benaki 7, Athènes 106 78 +30 21 0380 0014 cafetaf.gr
The coffee kisok at the Garden Shed Cafe, left, and a look inside Anäna.
Garden Shed Cafe, Kerameikos
Open only during Athens' balmy summer months (and not on Mondays), this espresso-sized coffee kiosk sits beneath a blousy Jacaranda tree in the vibey neighbourhood of Kerameikos, known for its counterculture scene. Follow directions to Latraac Skatebowl to find it, as the café is right next to the skate park's plywood curves. The space, designed by local architect Zachos Varfis, was created as a social project during the financial crisis, with the goal of revitalising a derelict 19th-century courtyard and providing a free skate space for young Athenians. Visit in the evening, as is the Greek style, to savour a strong coffee while watching skaters practise their grabs. You may even catch a glimpse of the city's girl-power roller skaters shredding on the slopes.Leonidou 63-65, Athina 104 35, +30 21 3045 3377 latraac.com