Bosnia and Herzegovina has mastered the art of coffee. Coffee is not just a drink. It is an experience. Since being under Turkish rule, Bosnia and Herzegovina made a name for itself through their coffee unlike other Balkan nations. Bosnian coffee is NOT Turkish coffee. The difference is not only in the name but the process. Travel with us through Sarajevo, as we discover Bosnia’s work of art.
Preparing for Bosnian Coffee
You can appreciate this art in Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s Old Town. The first thing you need when making Bosnian coffee (and Turkish coffee) is finely ground fresh roasted coffee beans. As you walk around Baščaršija, you can see little huts on the walking path. Inside the hut is a man grinding coffee beans by hand with an enormous pestle. You can hear thump, thump, thump, and the aroma makes you dream of an amazing java bliss. You can buy graduated sizes of coffee in grams that would suit your coffee addiction at home. 😉As you continue your walk through Baščaršija, you can hear the hammering of the coppersmiths. If you are looking for silver jewelry, you can find it in Bašcaršija too. You can also see other artists with their pottery and paintings hung on the shop doors. The coppersmiths manufacture the traditional Bosnian coffee services, which includes a tray, a džezva (small pot with a long neck), small cups and a sugar bowl.Now that we have everything needed to make real Bosnian coffee, it is time to learn how this beautiful art is expressed at Miris Dunja near the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in the Baščaršija with its cozy Old World charm. While some of the party climbed the steps to the second floor, I watched the artist explain how Bosnian coffee is NOT Turkish coffee.
Bosnian vs. Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is made by adding the coffee and sugar to water, heat it until you see bubbles and serve into a small cup with a saucer. But, here is how making Bosnian coffee becomes art. Bosnian coffee starts by only heating the water in a džezva on the stove. After coming to a boil, a small amount of water is set aside in a ceramic cup. The coffee is then added to the džezva and put back on the gas stove for a few seconds, allowing the liquid to boil yet again and create a thick foam.
Then, Bosnian coffee is served in a džezva where it was heated, placed on a round copper tray with a ceramic cup filled with a small amount of the hot water, a tall glass of water, sugar cubes and ALWAYS a rahat lokum (sweet jelly cubes, covered in powdered sugar or rolled in sesame seeds). When you’re ready for your coffee, first add the hot water from the ceramic cup to the džezva. Spoon out a layer of foam from the top, then pour from the džezva before adding the foam to the cup. Now enjoy the beautiful notes that come from every sip of your coffee and try to create your own work of art at home with your friends and family.
Bosnian Coffee and the Obligatory Sugar Cube
While black coffee is the way to go for many, there are always those that love their sugar. One way to take your Bosnian coffee is to have it served straight up without sugar in it. Then, take a long sugar cube and dip the tip of it into the coffee. Touch the sugar cube to your tongue and you will have a good amount of dissolved sugar bombarding your taste buds. Follow this immediately with a sip of Bosnian coffee. It may take a bit of practice to pull it off without getting your fingers soaked and sticky, but there are worse things to practice. A real pro can do a cup of coffee with one or two cubes. The young at heart may need a few more sugar cubes. 😉
Expand the Bosnian Coffee Experience
If you are in Sarajevo, you need to try the coffee in the old town. But if you want to taste it under the best conditions, we suggest you try it in the home of a local. We’re not sure if it is the nature, the hospitality, or the attention to detail because of the importance of the family name, but it is always a great experience doing coffee outdoor at a farm stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Do you have a Bosnian coffee story to share?