The ins and outs of Bosnian coffee

The ins and outs of Bosnian coffee

What exactly is Bosnian coffee, and how does it differ from its Turkish counterpart? Musement takes a look.

One of the first things visitors to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, notice is that the cafes all serve Bosnian coffee. For many, this will be the first time they have encountered this regional-specific take on their favorite morning beverage.

Sarajevo is a city full of tucked away cafes, bazaars teeming with local delicacies and intriguing art galleries. The city’s troubled past and the violent conflict of the 90s have left shrapnel marks on many building facades, and the museums feature harrowing exhibitions dedicated to the Srebrenica atrocity. But Bosnians are also keen to celebrate their distinctive culture and all that was kept alive during the breakup of Yugoslavia. The cafe culture in Sarajevo is one of the first things most visitors encounter. As Bosnia has been influenced by numerous cultures and cuisines, especially the Ottoman, the rich perfume of Bosnian coffee is often accompanied by trays full of baklava and other sweets.

Unlike Croatia and Slovenia, Bosnia is filled with Islamic influences. When Yugoslavia broke apart in bloody and horrific violence, the Arab nations grouped together to help save Bosnia’s religious sites and vulnerable communities. This influence is evident in the food—the coffee, in particular — on offer in Sarajevo.

So how exactly does Bosnian coffee differ from its murky Turkish counterpart? The Ottomans ruled this part of Europe for almost 40 years and left an indelible mark on the culture. But the way in which Bosnians now make their coffee is distinct to that of the Turks, who also passed on their coffee-making process to other countries in this area as well.

Bosnian coffee pour
Fresh from the džezva!

Bosnian coffee is prepared in a copper džezva (cezve to the Turks) that sits neatly on the stovetop. Souvenir shops sell these throughout the city, so it is worth taking some time to shop around for a souvenir and find one of a higher quality. Džezvas cast from one piece of metal will last longer, so be sure to check the quality of the copper.

Your barista will begin by heating the water in a džezva. Once the water comes to a boil, the barista removes a couple of spoonfuls to set aside, then adds the powdered grounds to the remaining water. The džezva is put back on the stovetop for a few seconds, allowing the liquid to boil yet again and create a thick foam.

The barista will continue to heat the džezva and wait for the drink to reach boiling point yet again. A thick foam will form at the top of the džezva and the barista will keep working away at this process until they are happy with the coffee. Turkish style coffee, on the other hand, calls for the powdered grounds, water and sugar to be heated at once.

Then, you may sweeten the drink, if you like. The process is very intricate and the differences between the two methods of preparation are subtle. In many ways, Bosnian coffee is more about context.

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