The KAFENION ( Cypriot Coffee Shop ), is both a social hub and a retreat – and still very much a male domain in the Cypriot villages. Every village has at least one KAFENION mostly in the central square and nearby the local church. The regulars gather there daily to meet, exchange ideas, read the newspaper and play the backgammon,” tavli” in Cypriot.
From the big windows facing the street, guests and regulars watch the world go by sipping their coffee or playing the” tavli”. Backgammon involves a combination of strategy and luck (from rolling dice). While the dice may determine the outcome of a single game, over a series of many games, the best player will accumulate the best record, somewhat like poker.
Cypriot coffee is typically served plain, medium or sweet and is prepared traditionally in a “briki”, a little long-handled copper saucepan, heated in a tray of hot sand. For the connoisseurs, “metrios” is the Cypriot coffee with a little sugar which has to be heated together with the coffee powder, ideally not just once but two or three times. The brew is poured piping hot into the cup – including the coffee grounds. “Skettos” is the Cypriot coffee without sugar at all and “Glykis” sweet in Greek , has one or two spoons of sugar.
The KAFENION gets noisy and animated around a game of backgammon – “tavli”. Sitting on their old wooden chairs regulars are watching each other play this traditional game creating small circles and groups. In the afternoons and early evenings coffee gives way to “Zivania” ( local spirit), wine or a local beer. The discussions are deep and vibrant and include subjects about politics, sport and what is going on in the village and in the world.
Love for Cypriot coffee “Kypriako” and “Tavli” is deeply engraved in the Cypriot life and culture.