• Jessica Cerovic

Coffee in Croatia

There are countless coffee lovers in the world and I know several of them are Croatian. Like many countries, coffee is a part of Croatia's culture. Going for coffee is almost like a ritual in the morning and an important social element in daily life where many friends meet. It's where major events can happen like holding business meetings or it's where you might just relax and read the newspaper. It is very common for Croatians to have multiple coffees throughout the day. Whatever tasks you have to do that day, they are usually separated by a stop for coffee. You can find a cafe almost anywhere you go. Besides the more common places like grocery stores and in shopping malls, they also have cafes in places like hardware stores, furniture stores and gas stations.

"Kava" is the Croatian word for coffee. One of the most popular coffee brands from Croatia is Franch. Other popular coffee brands in Croatia are high end kinds imported from Italy, like Illy, Lavaza and Segafredo. Most varieties have a rich, smooth and almost chocolatey flavor, unlike some African and Latin American coffees that have a more earthy taste.

If you order coffee in a cafe it will be espresso, but if you have coffee in a Croatian's home it will be cooked in traditional fashion. There is only one kind of milk added in coffee and that is whole milk. You might get a strangle look if you ask for an iced coffee. Croatians drink hot coffee, even in the summer. Coffee is always served with a small glass of water to drink at the end. Some cafes might even serve you your coffee with a piece of chocolate or small cookie. Coffee is served in traditional sized porcelain cups, much smaller than the mugs served in America. White sugar packets are served with your cup or already at the table. There is no paper, plastic or styrofoam coffee-to-go version because that would go against their cultural style. Igor always orders a macchiato (espresso with cold milk) and I always order a cappuccino (espresso with foamy milk). If coffee is not your thing, you can always order tea ("chai" in Croatian), juice, soft drinks, hot chocolate (thick melted chocolate), hot coco (powdered chocolate), sparkling water or a popular powdered drink called "Cedevita."

When you go visit a Croatian at their home, the first thing they will do when you walk in the door is make you coffee. This coffee is different than espresso and is made in a small traditional pot on the stove with boiled water and sugar. It is served in the same kind of coffee cups in a cafe with coffee grinds settling at the bottom. Do not drink the grinds or you will end up with a very dark, grainy smile (I learned that the hard way).

Another traditional coffee is called "bijela kava" meaning white coffee. It is not actually coffee but malted milk traditionally eaten with baškot, a ring shaped hard bread, that you dip into your drink to absorb the coffee and soften. The small sea port town of Bakar, only a few minutes drive outside of the city of Rijeka, is known for their baškot.

While you discover Croatia on vacation it is essential that you experience the coffee scene at least once. There are so many wonderful cafes to choose from, but our favorites are the ones near the shore for the beautiful view or in a city center for people watching. Either way, do like the Croatians do, sit back, relax and enjoy the moment.

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