Apr 242013

Frequent consumption of Greek style coffee is shown to improve blood vessel health or endothelial function, according to a research report published in Vascular Medicine and titled “Consumption of a Boiled Greek Type of Coffee Is Associated With Improved Endothelial Function: The Ikaria Study.”

There have been many conflicting studies trying to determine if coffee is heart healthy or not. Some studies have shown that coffee has adverse effects on blood cholesterol and blood pressure, and is associated with arterial stiffness. This study, however, indicates that frequent or chronic consumption of Greek style coffee improves blood vessel health.

Endothelial dysfunction or stiffness of your arteries is typically an early sign of arteriosclerosis, which is a plaque buildup in your arteries. Arteriosclerosis can lead to a heart attack and death. So anything that improves endothelial function, especially in old age, is worth investigating.

So what is special about a Greek style coffee that makes it heart healthy?

  1. It is made with Arabica beans, which has half the caffeine than Robusta coffee beans.
  2.   It is brewed in hot water, but not boiled. The lower temperature brewing method also helps reduce the caffeine levels.
  3. The Arabica beans brewed with the Greek method also has higher concentrations of antioxidants. This is probably the result of the coffee brewing in the water, rather than having steaming water dripping through coffee grinds as most Americans do.

There are four types of Greek coffee, which varies in sweetness. Sketos is the unsweetened version. Metrios uses 1 teaspoon of sugar per serving, and glykos uses 2 teaspoons of sugar per serving. You can also have a super-sweet version, which uses 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving.

To make Greek coffee, the Greeks use a special pot called a briki, but you can also use a small sauce pan. Put cold water in the pot and add 1 heaping teaspoon of finely ground Arabica coffee per serving in the water. If you want to drink one of the sweetened versions of Greek coffee, you should add the sugar at this time. Turn the heat on to medium, and stir the coffee about 5 times. Don’t stir again. Heat until a foam, called kaimaki, rises to the top, which should occur before it reaches a boil. After the foam rises to the top, you can take it off the heat and serve. Pour the coffee into cups without disturbing the foam. If you would like to follow the Greek tradition of drinking coffee, serve your coffee with a glass of cold water.

In summary, new research has shown that Greek style coffee improves blood vessel health. Greek coffee uses finely ground Arabica beans, which has half the caffeine than Robusta beans. The Greek style of brewing also increases the concentration of antioxidants in the coffee, compared to the hot, dripping method that most Americans use.

So consider making your coffee the Greek way, and hopefully you will live as long as the people of Ikaria.


About.com:  How To Make Greek Coffee
International Coffee Organization: Caffeine