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Greek Coffee Frappe (and How to Make it Decaf)

Pop quiz: what’s the easiest way to go to the Mediterranean without traveling there?

Answer: By making a Greek coffee frappe. Just one sip will have you feeling like you’re relaxing on a Grecian isle.

Frappe Facts

The Greek coffee frappe is one of the most delicious and refreshing ways to enjoy an iced coffee. It’s a simple drink, made by vigorously shaking instant coffee, sugar, and water until it forms a thick foam. The foam is then poured over ice and topped off with water or milk.

The story goes that a Nestle employee named Giannis Dritsas invented the drink at the 1957 Thessaloniki International Fair in Greece. He originally intended the drink for children, and used chocolate syrup and milk. Later that day, Dimitris Vakondios, another Nestle employee working with Dritsas, wanted to have a cup of coffee on his lunch break. He couldn’t find hot water, so he tried the technique with instant coffee and ice cubes. Greek coffee culture would never be the same from then on.

The drink’s popularity spread like wildfire throughout Greece after this. Nestle capitalized on their place in the drink’s history, and launched a major ad campaign in the 1980s. To this day, a coffee frappe can also be called a Nescafe frappe, and Nescafe is considered the instant coffee of choice for a frappe. I first tried Frappes at local Greek Fests when I was growing up, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

When it comes to the coffee choice, we here at DecafLife aren’t ones for dogma. The beauty of the Greek Frappe is that any instant coffee will work, which means any instant decaf will work too. You can use Nescafe Clasico Decaf, or your favorite craft roaster’s instant decaf. Like many classic coffee drinks, all you need to do is swap out the caffeinated coffee with a great decaf to make an equally delicious, decaffeinated drink.

Shake, Shake, Shake

The most important part of making a Greek frappe is to shake it vigorously for at least a full minute. It’s an easy drink to make, but it will require the same cocktail shaker workout of a Ramos Gin Fizz. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, a mason jar with a lid, or even a plastic quart container, will work just fine. All you need is a container with a tight fitting lid.

Start by placing 2 teaspoons each of instant coffee and sugar in the base of your cocktail shaker. You can adjust this to your liking. I consider an equal parts coffee to sugar ratio to be a good standard, but you can adjust either ingredient to make the drink stronger or sweeter. 

However much coffee and sugar you use, make sure to just barely cover them with cold water. If you use too much water, you will not be able to form the foam properly. Fit the top of your cocktail shaker back on, and get ready to shake for 1 – 2 minutes. I find that 90 seconds produces a perfectly foamy result.

You’ll know that you’re finished shaking when the water, coffee, and sugar has been transformed into a thick foam. Pour this into a glass filled with ice cubes, and then top with milk or water. Both options will produce a delicious drink. Then all you have to do is sip your frappe and pretend you’re relaxing in a coastal cafe on the Mediterranean. You might just feel yourself transported there while you enjoy the frappe. 

Decaf Greek Coffee Frappe


  • 2 teaspoons instant decaf coffee

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • Milk (optional)


  • Place instant coffee and sugar in a cocktail shaker.
  • Cover the coffee and sugar with water. Only use enough water to just cover the dry ingredients, do not use more.
  • Close the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 1 – 2 minutes. This will produce a thick foam. If foam hasn’t been created, shake longer.
  • Pour the foam over a glass filled to the brim with ice. I’d recommend a 16oz glass.
  • Top the glass with milk or water.


  • If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, you can use a mason jar, quart container, or any other glass or jar with a tight fitting lid.

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