Specialty coffee has become quite the buzzword in Greece’s coffee crazy capital. I’ve got to witness the growth of the coffee scene first hand, while cafe hopping in Athens the summer of 2016, 2017 and 2018. I am excited to present you the results of these caffeinated adventures: a specialty coffee guide featuring the real deal – new and established cafes in Athens!
In August 2016 I met Alexandros at Nomad, where he was working as a roaster at the time. One year later I had the pleasure to see him again at his newly opened specialty coffee shop and roastery in Tavros district. Handpickers is a passion project he runs together with his partner Natalie and friend Dimitris. Both Alexandros and Dimitris have won several national coffee competitions and bring many years of experience to the table. I could really feel that they put their hearts into this place and have seldom experienced such hospitality!
The idea for the name of the cafe came about when Alexandros visited Kenya in November 2016 together with Nordic Approach. It reflects the deep appreciation he has for the hard work that coffee growers and pickers carry out at origins. A beautiful painting on the outside wall of a women picking coffee confirms this! The inside space holds a couple of stools by the bar, and while you’ll be in extremely nice company, lot’s of folks drop in to take away. Now let’s talk coffee! The signature espresso is a blend with 60% Brazil and 40% Colombia but there was also an option for a single origin Costa Rica natural. For filter Handpickers are sticking to a fully washed Kenya Nyeri with a natural sweetness and citric acidity, which is what I opted for. Even though Tavros is probably not on your list of places to visit in Athens, you could easily stop by on your way from or to Pireaus port by simply getting of the metro for a quick refuel at the Handpickers cafe.
177 78 Athens Tavros
The second venture by the masterminds behind Mind the Cup in Peristeri is a treat for all senses. Conveniently located close to Syntagma square in the center of Athens this cafe starts you off with breakfast in the morning and gets you through the night by serving fancy cocktails while looking plain gorgeous.
The person smiling at you on the picture above is Nikos, barista and roaster at Peek a Bloom, who had already been with the Mind the Cup family before building up this new cafe. That very day we met I was lucky to be surrounded by 3 latte art champions! Nikos had won the 2015 Latte Art Championships in Greece, Arnon Thitiprasert, who is the World Latte Art Champion 2017, was visiting from Thailand and Michalis Karagiannis was runner up at the same competition. When the latter two were deep in latte art discussions I picked Nikos brain about the coffee menu.
Peek a Bloom are sourcing coffee beans from Nordic Approach and roast in a separate space behind the counter. Thanks to the large windows you’ll get to see all the action though! On the cafe counter a Black Eagle by Victoria Arduino is spreading its copper wings while the white and blue tilings remind us that we’re actually in Greece (Yay!). For filter coffee you can expect a nice selection including Chemex, Aeropress and even a Syphon.
105 62 Athens
Come day, come night – The Underdog has got you covered! Set in a picturesque pedestrian street close to Thissio metro station, it’s not only coffee shop, roastery and bar all in one, but also home to 3 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champions and one Runner-Up! There is really no limit to the professionalism and innovation you’ll encounter at the Underdog cafe.
I met the 2016 champion Michalis Dimitrakopoulos during midday hours and given the heat I felt it was best to stick to coffee. He charmed me with a really tasty flat white, followed by a delicious cold brew. Their shop currently holds 9 different espresso roasts and 5 for filter. Depending on the day you’ll be enjoying single origins from Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Ethiopia or Kenya. If you come by the cafe hungry an extensive brunch menu will take care of your cravings!
118 51 Athens
This coffee shop underwent some changes in recent years. At the time of my first visit to Athens in 2016 it was still associated with Kudu Coffee Roasters. This summer I found out they went separate ways and are now roasting under the name Mr. Bean Coffee Roasters. The bean master roasting behind the scenes is Konstantinos Perpinias, who had already worked with Taf during their early beginnings.
What stayed the same is the gorgeous cafe interior and great location in Exarcheia! Lot’s of natural light and outside seating make this coffee shop a great hang out spot. Mr. Bean’s house blend is a chocolatey brew from Brazil and Guatemala. Apart from espresso there are plenty of brewing options available, including cold brew, as well as sweet treats to accompany the coffee. And if you want to try my next recommendation, you just have to cross the street!
Emmanouil Mpenaki 20
106 78 Athens
Even though I feel like Taf Coffee needs no introduction, a guide to specialty coffee shops in Athens wouldn’t be quite right without featuring them. The roastery was found by Yiannis Taloumis already in the 90’s. It evolved from roasting the traditional Greek way to becoming a pioneer in bringing third wave coffee to Greece and finally to the capital Athens. Taf was actually the first specialty coffee shop to open in Athens as early as 2009.
With such a longstanding tradition and experience it is no wonder that Taf received recognition way beyond the Greek borders. Just this year their house espresso blend Rosebud won the bronze medal for the category espresso blend at the Australian International Awards 2017. It has a creamy feel and smooth body with caramel, chocolate and nutmeg aroma. Give it a try when you pass by the cafe! But not only the coffee is excellent! During my visit Konstantinos Iatridis, the winner of the Hellenic Barista Championship 2017, did a great job explaining the different coffees and helping me choose. 🙂
Emmanouil Mpenaki 7
Athens 106 78
For those who want to try Taf coffee closer to the center of Athens, Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies is the perfect place! The cafe is located close to Panepistimio metro station and serves exclusively coffee roasted by Taf. Their quality standards as well as professionalism are equally high and not even the humidity in the room is left to chance. I found their baked goods and Greek yogurt to be excellent as well.
Athens 105 59
Kaya is definitely not an easy cafe to track down. It is located inside a shopping complex called “Stoa Bolani” close to Syntagma and is a take away espresso bar run by a nice bunch of coffee professionals. You’ll not only find that the coffee is very inexpensive, Kaya also has the highest number of grinders for espresso I have ever seen in one shop. Apart from their house blend, a nice range of local roasters and their single origins is rotating in a total of five grinders. It is the perfect place to drink yourself through Athens specialty coffee scene in just one afternoon!
105 62 Athens
In this city guide I’ve introduced the most central coffee places, many of them are easy to reach from Syntagma Square. There are more great specialty coffee shops not featured here, such as Mind the Cup and Manor House in the Peristeri neighbourhood or Nomad Roastery in Chalandri neighbourhood.