Water used to be the only fluid I needed to get me through the day. Then I went to Ionian Village and realized I needed something stronger than water. I needed a Greek FRAPPE. All day, every day.
Ionian Village, a summer camp in Bartholomio, Greece, brings together over 40 staff members and hundreds of teen campers from across the United States, giving them an experience of a lifetime. Ionian Village strengthens faith, teaches Greek culture, creates epic memories, and even supplies coffee. I was a camper in 2008 and a staff member in back-to-back summers of 2013 and 2014. Serving as a staff member gave me the best experiences of all. It’s also when I drank the most frappes in my life.
Staff members work two 20-day sessions from June to August. We cranked through lots of late nights and early mornings because it’s always on-the-go time. You can’t really call it work because eating Kyria Sophia’s delicious Greek food and supervising junkyard wars, music fests, and themed dance parties totally rocks. On travel days, the chapel bell (aka the camp’s alarm clock) rang before the sun came up. Buses drove us to historic sites like ancient Olympia and the Acropolis. Ferries swept campers and staff off to marvelous islands like Aegina, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be writing about frappes. But the memories! On Kefalonia, we were able to venerate the relics of St. Gerassimos, a walking saint and the patron saint of the island.
You’d think the staff would have crashed into their bunks after days like these. But I have serious FOMO (fear of missing out) of anything. Many nights, I strolled to the staff lounge to catch up, plan the next day’s activities, play tavli, or eat pagoto (ice cream) with other staff members. I would’ve pulled all-nighters if Father Evagoras (the director of Ionian Village) allowed it. But the late night staff owls were always sent to bed too. A good night’s sleep was four hours. That’s where the frappes came in handy.
Frappes are essentially liquid energy. They’re a foamy iced coffee that only requires three ingredients: sugar, instant coffee (Nescafe is most commonly used), and water. There are three basic ways to serve a frappe: sketos (unsweetened), metrios (semisweet), and glykos (extra sweet). You can also order your frappe with a splash of milk by saying “me gala” (with milk) and of course ending with “parakalo” (thank you). Because manners. I like my frappe served metrios me gala (semi-sweet with milk) or sketos me gala (unsweetened with milk). I don’t have enough hair on my chest to go straight up sketos yet. I need a little bit of sweetness in my frappe.
Whatever way you take your liquid energy, drink it slowly over a long period of time—unlike Ionian Village campers. Those kids always drank it wrong. We would stop at kafeneios (cafes) and treat the campers to frappes and every last camper would slurp down their frappes like milkshakes. Relax and sip slow.
Witnessing campers strengthen their faith, drop their cool cards and truly be themselves—and smile all summer long—is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and worth every minute of lost sleep. I would do it all over again, as long as there’s a steady supply of Greek frappes.
What you need:
-2 teaspoons Nescafe classic coffee (or instant coffee if you don’t have Nescafe)
-4 to 5 ice cubes
-A tall glass
-Handheld frappe mixer*
*If you don’t have a handheld mixer:
-Use an electric blender and blend for 20-30 seconds or use a container and seal and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or until a foam develops. Then transfer the foam into your glass. Pour water into the container and swish around to be sure to get all the foam.
1. In your glass, add two teaspoons of Nescafe. Add the appropriate amount of sugar for the type of coffee you prefer:
-sketos is unsweetened (no sugar)
-metrios is semi sweet (1-2 teaspoons of sugar)
-glykos is extra sweet (2 or more teaspoons of sugar)
2. Add one tablespoon of water to the glass to slightly cover the Nescafe and sugar.
3. Using your handheld mixer, mix around for about 20 seconds or until foam forms. Add the ice cubes and more water until the glass is filled to the top. Stir around with a straw.
4. Serve immediately with a glass of cold water on the side and enjoy!
-Milk (add a splash to the top after the water has been all the way added)
-Bailey’s or Kahlua (add a splash or two to the top after the water has been all the way added)
-Vanilla ice cream (add a scoop before you fill the water all the way to the top)