Kafenes - Cypriot Coffee Shop

Kafenes has many close parallels with the traditional English pub, like the traditional village pub it is the centre of village activity, like the traditional village pub it is a strictly male preserve.

Every village will have a kafenes, larger villages more than one. They will be dotted in or around the village square.

The kafenes is the centre of village life. Matters of life and death, the business of the village, national and international politics are discussed and sometimes solved in the kafenes. The kafenes is the place to hold village auctions.

The kafenes is also a place of relaxation, where tavli (backgammon), pilota, chess or cards will be played.

When the first radios, then TVs appeared, these were to be found in the kafenes, thus highlighting the central importance of the kafenes.

The kafenes will open out onto the square. During the summer or any spot of warm weather tables and chairs will be set up outside.

In the past when touring performers, karangiozis, would visit a village they would invariably end up at the kafenes to give a performance. This was one of those rare occasions when the kafenes would be open to women and children.

The beverages served in the kafenes are coffee (small and strong with a side glass of water), local herb teas, later in the evening brandy and local wines may be served.

Like the English pub the kafenes as an institution is in steady decline, it no longer has the same importance in village life.

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(c) Keith Parkins 1996-1997 -- May 1997 rev 7