How the art of drinking coffee made me fall in love with Bosnia – Sarajevo Food Dictionary

How the art of drinking coffee made me fall in love with Bosnia

This is my third column so it’s time you get to know me a bit better. Let’s start with something easy, like my morning routine. It’s short and sweet actually, so don’t you worry, and it only consists of one word: coffee!

Needless to say, that I have no shortage of nice places to get my morning coffee here in Sarajevo. I am actually amazed by how many cafés there really are – has anybody ever tried counting them? Let’s just put it this way: It’s impossible to have caffeine withdrawal in Sarajevo! And I do love them all – the cappuccinos, the nescafés (even though I called them “not real coffee” before) and the Bosnian coffees. Yes, it took me some time to get accustomed to them but now I proudly show my friends how to drink them correctly when they are visiting (not that we had many visitors this year…) and I can even prepare them at home.

You know, it’s not that we don’t drink coffee in Germany. We do and we love it. But if we are meeting up for coffee, it means we’re meeting up for an hour or an hour and a half to have a drink and a chat. Coffee drinking is efficient in Germany – just like so many other things. But it’s not something that is celebrated. Here it’s quite different, of course. I love how coffee is connecting people in Bosnia. If there is one thing that’s holding the Bosnian society together it’s this: strong, sweet, black coffee – drunken anytime of the day!

So little did I know that the little sentence “Idemo na kafu!” loosely translates to: “Let’s meet up and then just see where the afternoon takes us but bring some time, because this is not going to be over in an hour!” I was surely not used to sitting in a café for hours, drinking a single cup of coffee and a glass of water, just chatting away. I was surprised that by ordering just one drink, we can stay as long as we want, nobody will give us a sign to pay up and leave.
We just sit, enjoy the now, the time together instead of rushing through yet another drink and then head towards other obligations.

I also love the different ways you can have coffee here: With all the busy bees at EspressoLab where I can also just have a little work session when I feel like I can’t take the home office anymore. Or at Sevdah House tucked away from the city in this little garden that is just so quiet and peaceful. Or maybe at Talkes & Giggles with a beautiful view of Milijacka and the beautiful but run-down facades of houses on Obala Kulina bana . And just give me any address of a coffee place in Baščaršija and I’ll surely love it!

I don’t know, maybe it’s the Southern mentality here in Bosnia, maybe the history just makes you enjoy the little things and pleasures so much more. But I love that you even have a word for it, for all those little things that make life worth living, that you need to be happy. In fact, ćejf might be just my favorite Bosnian word. So that’s what I learned here, and I am very grateful for that: I learned to take time slow, see where the afternoon takes you – and that is a precious gift Bosnia gave me.


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Piše: SFD
Autorica teksta

Kathi Numić


I love words and I love food. Luckily, as a journalist I can combine the two – by writing about food! Be it a fancy dinner, a street food stand or just some fast food shop around the corner, you can discover amazing flavors everywhere and I put them into words and pictures.

I’m also a firm believer that you are what you eat. Meaning food is part of your national, ethical and personal identity. Nobody will ever take grandma’s Sunday stew out of you, no matter how old you are and where you are now. So, I love exploring countries through their cuisine, try their foods, learn about their soul. And this is what I will do in SFD Getaways – to show you a part of the Bosnian soul through its food.

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