Bosnian coffee – #1 Pillar of Bosnian Social Life

Bosnian coffee – #1 Pillar of Bosnian Social Life

Coffee is the world’s favorite beverage and it is consumed across the planet. The coffee plant went a long way from east Africa where it originates to the middle east from which it spread throughout the Muslim world. It is thanks to trade routes and merchants that coffee reached Europe as well as the New World.

In the 16th century, coffee started to be consumed in Europe for the first time. It was in the south-eastern parts of the continent, at the time controlled by the Ottoman Empire, that the first European coffee shops were established. Bosnia and particularly the city of Sarajevo were one of the first European cities to have such a place. Over the years the coffee prepared here evolved to become what is today known as Bosnian Coffee.

People were consuming this hot beverage in Hans of Sarajevo already in the 16th century. By the time it reached mahalas and private houses it was already the foundation of the social life of the city. In the same century, there was already a separate tahmiscija guild dedicated to roasting and pounding coffee. This is at least a century before Vienna, Paris and other European capitals started enjoying this drink.

Preparation of Coffee

Many steps are necessary before coffee can be consumed. Primarily, one should roast the coffee beans. The traditional way would be roasting it in a metal cylindrical vessel known as Shish which is rolled over the fire. Then the roasted beans are either ground in a coffee grinder or pounded in Dibek which makes the coffee particularly flavorful. The next step is the preparation which varies greatly depending on the location and customs, but it usually involves open flame and forming the top layer of foam.

In general, one should serve Bosnian coffee on a tray called tabla and it should be drunk from fildzan, a porcelain cup used specifically for this purpose. Another local custom is to consume sweets with coffee such as lokum or baklava and to drink coffee without added sugar.

If you are to drink a traditional Bosnian coffee in an authentic coffee shop there is no doubt that along with a coffee you will be served with a lokum which will substitute sugar. Even though it is unconventional if you are a foreigner, local customs exist right because of that. To learn different customs and to try and experience something new and different that will stay in your memory forever. 

Bosnian coffee
Bosnian coffee coffeeshop

Particularities of Bosnian Coffee

In the modern world of today, people consume coffee to stay alert during busy days. Students are known to drink lots of it while preparing for exams to stay awake during long study sessions. In Bosnia, coffee is consumed for a different purpose as it is usually a break from whatever you are doing, and it is something you would rarely do by yourself. Traditional coffee is called Bosnian coffee but in some parts of the region, you can also hear people calling it Turkish coffee even though there are clear differences between the two.

To make Turkish coffee you would add sugar during the cooking process and you would add cold water and let it cook slowly. Bosnian coffee is prepared by adding boiling water to ground coffee and it is always served bitter. It is up to a persons’ preference for how much sugar should be added.

The most important part of making Bosnian coffee is the foam which is distributed evenly to everyone around the table. Real Bosnian coffee without foam is considered an insult. If there is no foam on the top of the coffee, something is seriously wrong with the preparation. It can mean that you haven’t added enough coffee spoons of the coffee ingredient or coffee as a product is low on quality. 

Bosnian coffee
Traditional making of Bosnian Coffee at Džemkof coffeeshop

As coffee holds a vital place in Bosnian society many distinct coffee-related words have developed over time. The most common word for coffee drinking is “kahvenisanje”. It constitutes more than the mere act of drinking and it means socializing over coffee. Another important term is “ćejf” (cheyf) which can be translated as pleasure or the act of enjoying something. Even though this word is not solely related to coffee, the act of coffee drinking could be described as “ćejf”.

Feel free to check our Sarajevo tours offers, and we’ll give you a hint on where to try authentic Bosnian coffee.

Bosnian coffee
A typical serving of Bosnian coffee

In this Bosnian coffee guide, hopefully, you have learned something about our traditional making of the world’s favorite hot beverage. It is unimaginable for a typical Bosnian to spend one day without a coffee. Thanks to that, we are ranked 11th place globally in coffee consumption. That would be totally understandable, but when you take into consideration that only 3 million people are currently living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and at least 500.000 of that number is situated in Sarajevo and its surroundings then you get a real picture of our coffee consumption.  

So, every time you come to Sarajevo, make sure to read our “Bosnian coffee guide” and save time spent on Google searching for a good place to try and enjoy Bosnian coffee. Also, you can always book our free city tour following this link, and we will happily help you in your quest to find and try real and authentic Bosnian coffee in a traditional coffee shop. 

If you are a traveler and a coffee enthusiast who would like to add something to our list, or you are a Bosnian coffeeshop owner in Sarajevo with awesome tips and tricks on how to prepare and make our favorite beverage and you would like a bit more attention from our readers, make sure you contact us with the message subject “Bosnian coffee”. Looking forward to hearing from you!


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