A cup of coffee is a serious issue in Athens. Athenians love coffee. You will see them walking around with a coffee in their hand every hour of the day. There are canteens, cafes, coffee houses, coffee restaurants on almost every street of the city. Everyone has his/her favourite cafe and it is really hard to suggest only a few of them. Therefore we chose to present our favourite based on our personal criteria (atmosphere, location, decoration, quality of coffee, desserts and snacks) and excluded some that could be categorized as bars. After much thought we have decided to present the following :
Kimolia Art Cafe (Κιμωλία Art Cafe) : Not far from Syntagma Square and hidden in a street on the verge of Plaka, this small cafe will catch you by surprise. With Art Deco decoration and Parisian air, this is a perfect all-day place for a cup of coffee. In its cozy interior among paintings, antics, handicrafts and a piano, you could have coffee, tea, drinks and a few but tasty snacks and desserts. The cafe also hosts various temporary art exhibitions and book presentations. (Ypereidou 5, Plaka)
Yiasemi (Γιασεμί) : While wandering at the usually crowded streets of Plaka, you probably come across the buzzing stairs of Mnisikleous. It is one of the most photographed spots in Plaka, it is always crowded with tourists but at the same time it is a favourite place of the locals. The most famous cafe here is Yiasemi, with excellent sweets, homemade pies, tea and of course coffee. Sit at a table on the stairs or catch a table inside, where the room resembles the interior of an old Athenian house, ignore the buzz and have a real Athenian experience. (Mnisikleous 23, Plaka)
Ta Serbetia stou Psyrri (Τα Σερμπέτια στου Ψυρρή) : This place, in the ever busy Psyrri neighbourhood, has become almost an institution in downtown Athens. It opened in 1997 during the transformation of the neglected and historical neighbourhood of Psyrri into the epicenter of Athenian nightlife. Back then Serbetia made the difference by serving quality coffee and excellent traditional sweets. After a few years of decline, Psyrri has earned again its place in Athenian nightlife in a more alternative way and Serbetia are still here to serve the same good coffee and the same tasty sweets to a new generation but also to its loyal clientele of the previous decades. (Aeschylou 6, Psyrri)
Underdog : At Underdog they take the making of coffee very seriously. The owner is one of the world champions of the “World Coffee in Good Spirits” competition and therefore intensive care is taken during the making of a cup of coffee. They use coffee seeds which are roasted and prepared at the cafe. But apart from the perfect coffee, this place has one of the best brunch catalogues in the city and its interior and small yard are impressive and unique. They have transformed an old house in Thisio into a modern and welcoming place suitable for every hour of the day. (Herakleidon 8, Thisio)
Taf : This is not a cozy or fancy place but it is the cafe that has taught Athenians to seek the best quality in coffee. It opened 10 years ago at this location, near Omonoia Square, with the purpose to find and serve coffee of the finest quality at affordable prices. The experiment was successful and today Athenians come here to taste coffee with unique flavours, from seeds that are imported exclusively by Taf from various countries around the world. Visit Taf for probably the best coffee in town. (Emmanouel Mpenaki 7, Omonoia)
Just Made 33 : A new addition in downtown Athens but one with an already loyal audience. Located near the trendy Agias Eirinis Square, opens early in the morning and serves those who work in the area, shoppers and visitors with quality coffee and tasty sandwiches. The sandwiches are exceptional with fresh ingredients that are carefully selected from top providers. Find a table by the window, relax, drink your coffee and watch outside the always busy streets of Athens commercial center. (Evagelistrias 33, Agias Eirinis Square)
Black Duck Multiplarte: Black Duck is an all-day cafe restaurant and also a place of art expression. Starting early with coffee and snacks, the place transforms into a restaurant at night and sometimes hosts live music events. It has also a gallery that hosts art exhibitions all year round and a lively bar. Black Duck is the perfect spot in the city center, especially in the morning, for a relaxing cup of coffee while listening to great (and often classical) music. From Spring until Autumn Black Duck has a sister cafe, Black Duck Garden, which operates in the garden of Athens City Museum and it is one of the most beautiful yards in the city. (Christou Lada 9a, Athens)
Little Tree – Books and Coffee : Just a few meters from Dionisiou Areopagitou Street and near Acropolis Museum, you will discover this small cafe. A group of friends created this cosy cafe and bookstore, as a gathering place for the inhabitants of the area. Books are everywhere in this place, which is always well informed about new editions. At the same time, you could find here excellent coffee, tea, sweets, snacks and a carefully picked variety of wines. The secret is spreading in the city and now during peak hours, it is sometimes difficult to find a table. (Kavaloti 5, Koukaki)
Oh Boy : This cafe is relatively new in town but has earned the admiration of Athenians. The small place has a cosy interior and a few tables on the pavement, and is always crowded. Apart from the carefully selected coffee and tea, what makes this place special are its perfect homemade sweets. Classic and beloved recipes that nobody could resist. Also some snacks called here “small eats” will please your appetite if you are hungry. In the upcoming Pagrati neighbourhood and near Proskopon Square, this is the place for a really homy coffee break. (Archelaou 32, Pagrati)
Ciel Athens : There are various places, especially around Monastiraki and Ermou Street that have a spectacular view of the Acropolis and the surrounding area. Ciel Athens is one of them and on its terrace, with 360 degrees view, you will feel like floating over Athens. The coffee is great as well as the various desserts, snacks and other dishes. If the weather is cold, there is no need to lose the magnificent view. From inside of the cafe you have a wonderful view of Mitropoleos Square and from the big side window of Acropolis hill. (Mnisikleous 2, Monastiraki)
Little Kook : Little Kook [pictured above] needs no introduction, it is in a category of its own. The rich and flamboyant exterior and interior decoration, presenting a certain concept, changes every few months (in our pictures the concept is obviously Christmas). The moment you enter this cafe is like entering a whole new world with every detail carefully designed. But apart from the decoration, what you could taste here is also unique. Coffees, teas, desserts and snacks come in huge and rich portions with excellent quality (you could taste here probably the best pancakes in Athens). The only drawback is the always long queue outside but the final experience will reward you. (Karaiskaki 17, Psyri)
There are numerous places for a perfect coffee break in Athens. This article could be only the beginning of a long conversation about the best cafe in the city. Also, this article focuses only on the city center and the nearby neighbourhoods and leaves out all the excellent cafes in other suburbs of Athens.
In the words of Gabriel Ba (the famous Brazilian comic book artist) “it doesn’t matter where you are from or how you feel, there is always peace in a strong cup of coffee”.
*[Photo at the top is from iStock]