The Obligatory Coffee Post, At Long Last – or – Coffee, A Love Story

Given the name of this blog, it’s about time I shared my thoughts on coffee!

Mainly, I love it. This warm delicious beverage brings me comfort as well as energy.

I’ve always liked the smell of coffee, but I didn’t start drinking it until I finished college and went to Sarajevo, Bosnia to teach English. Coffee is an institution in Bosnia. It is everywhere, and it is very, very important.

I started with espresso with regular white sugar. I expanded to Nescafe, which I still love. Instead of Splenda, I used some kind of fake sugar in a plastic pellet dispenser. Sometimes I drank Bosnian coffee, which depending on the producing country, people may also know as Turkish coffee, Greek coffee, or muddy coffee (the last one is the Israeli variant I believe).

This style of coffee is made with the most coarse/least fine grounds. I was taught to heat just the grounds in the small metal container (dzedzva or cezve) until you can smell the coffee, then add water. The first time it boils, you remove the dzedzva from the heat and let it settle, then return it till it boils for a second time. After you pour the coffee, any grounds that fall into the cup just settle to the bottom … and you do not drink them.

During one of my months-long trips back to the US, I became a barista at Starbucks. I began drinking Starbucks coffee as well as milk-based drinks like lattes. I am still partial to lighter roasts like Caribou and Dunkin Dunuts, and although I mostly avoid milk-based coffee drinks, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is like crack to me.

My favorite thing about coffee, though, is its (for real) role in society in the Balkans and other places. The same way that meals have a name in most languages (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), coffees have a name in Bosnian. I don’t know these names without looking them up – but there is one specific coffee “meal’ you serve after a meal for guests in your home – to let them know it is time to leave. If you are a guest and you are offered that coffee, go ahead and drink it, and then be on your way! More generally, there are outdoor cafes everywhere in Sarajevo, with comfortable chairs but a bare bones food menu. It’s because you meet your friends for coffee.

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