Bosnian Coffee

August 7, 2011 at 9:00 am 14 comments

Confession time: I am a coffee addict. I am not so bad that I get a headache if I don’t have it, and I am not impossible to talk to in the morning before I have a cup, but I am definitely a much happier person when I do. I take my coffee black and like it to be strong and flavorful. I don’t like flavored lattes, and will stick with a plain cappuccino if I am in the mood for a coffee shop drink. Most of the time, however, I keep it simple with a plain old cup of American coffee.DSC00641Little did I know that my affinity for strong, black coffee would prepare me perfectly for my time in Bosnia! The thing that struck me most about their culture was how much it revolved around coffee. They will sit in the afternoon for hours at a cafe, their spot reserved by their tiny cup of coffee that was finished long ago. This allows for good conversation and excellent people watching, two of my favorite leisure activities. I wondered aloud at how many people were out for coffee so early in the afternoon, but my friend pointed out the high unemployment rate in the city. With almost half of the adult population out of work, what better to do with your time than sit and discuss current events over coffee?

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Bosnian coffee is made and enjoyed in a very particular way. It is often said that a girl is ready for marriage when she can make her own pita and perfect Bosnian coffee (too bad I am not Bosnian because Azra and her mom have taught me both!). To begin, a tiny cup of water is measured out into the pot and put onto the stove top. When the water comes to a boil, a small spoonful of finely ground coffee is added. When the coffee grounds rise to the top of the pot, it is immediately removed from the heat and allowed to settle. Like good espresso, perfect coffee is marked by a creamy layer on the top of the coffee. That layer is scooped into the cup, followed by the coffee. The cup is allowed to sit for a few minutes to allow the grounds to resettle. Some add sugar cubes as well, but I didn’t need the extra sweetness because, before taking a small sip, you take a small bite of sweet dessert. At home, we enjoyed sweet coffee cookies, and at the restaurant I got to try lokum, a super sweet jelly cube with bits of walnut that is traditionally served with the coffee. At the end of the cup, you have to be careful not to swallow the grounds. They are really bitter and not a pleasant ending, but can also be used to tell your fortune! I loved the ritual and tradition that is involved in a cup of coffee, and love the time that is devoted to the making, drinking, and talking afterwards.

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PS: Forgive the red hue that dominates the pictures! We were sitting at a cafe that must be sponsored by Coca-cola, because everything was Coke red! Everything from tables and chairs to umbrellas were red, casting a red hue over everything. Not the best for pictures, but it was all I had!

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide  |  August 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Those coke tents are priceless!

    Reply
  • 2. Pissant Partisan  |  August 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Interesting idea, though I think I’d have gone for the sugar! This reminds me a little of a Turkish coffee house I came across once. It is rare to find a place which puts the emphasis on quality over quantity.

    Reply
    • 3. jenlenew  |  August 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Most people do use sugar, I am just weird :) I would love to try Turkish coffee too! I have heard it is great.

      Reply
  • […] ensure a lengthy coffee break in the afternoon. I have shared a little bit about my experience with Bosnian coffee and the way Bosnians celebrate with special meals, so now here is a glimpse into the daily food […]

    Reply
  • 5. joannamv  |  August 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Wish there was an European coffee house over here! <3

    Reply
  • 6. simplyshaka  |  August 19, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Hi there-I just stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying all the posts about Europe (ok and coffee!) I am going to Italy in a few weeks and I’ve never been to Europe and I’m so excited. I will be visiting Croatia while there as well-do you know if they have the same kind coffee culture as Bosnia?

    Reply
    • 7. jenlenew  |  August 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

      Enjoy your trip! Italian espresso is also incredible, as are macchiato and cappuccino. The coffee in Italy is more rushed and often is taken standing around a bar, but it such good quality!

      Where in Croatia will you be going? I was on the coast, and we didn’t find this type of coffee there. Definitely still a cafe culture, though, where you could sit around over coffee for an hour or so to people watch in the afternoon!

      Reply
  • 8. Saime Dmr  |  August 19, 2011 at 10:18 am

    it shows a little bit like turkish coffe and turkish delight :) hmm.. yamyam.. i thing it’S the same coffe and delight ^.^

    Reply
  • 9. Jasmin Jusuf Jusufovic  |  August 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Glad to have had you here, dear friend!!!

    Reply
  • 10. Jasmin Jusuf Jusufovic  |  August 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

    One thing though… If you do know how to make pita and kahva (coffee) you don’t necessarily need to be Bosnian… :D
    Other thing, since I am a… hm… well yeah – a coffee addict, Bosnian coffee addict, I can give you and insight in the difference between Turkish and Bosnian coffee…
    Bosnian coffee did originate from Turkish coffee, but over time, we developed our own preparation process, different from that of Turkish coffee… You have said it clearly and correctly… Turkish coffee though is prepared in a way that you put grinded coffee in cold water, and let it come to a boil. Other thing is that Turkish coffee is, how can I say it, denser compared to our, somewhat like a compote :D

    Reply
    • 11. jenlenew  |  August 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Thanks for pointing out that difference, I had no idea! I have never tried Turkish coffee for myself

      Reply
  • 12. Hitting the Links « Grace Dependent  |  August 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    […] ensure a lengthy coffee break in the afternoon. I have shared a little bit about my experience with Bosnian coffee and the way Bosnians celebrate with special meals, so now here is a glimpse into the daily food […]

    Reply
  • 13. Rachel  |  July 15, 2012 at 4:48 am

    I had my very first bosnian coffee in this exact cafe! all my pictures are red as well

    Reply
    • 14. homemadeadventure  |  July 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      that’s funny! i loved this place, even if it made my pics look funny!

      Reply

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